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2003 Scotch Whisky Industry News Archive

< Recent | <2004
22 Dec
2003
Imerman likely to jump at WestLB's W&M stake
THE departure of Robin Saunders from WestLB this week is likely to hasten the company’s expected sale of its 30 per cent stake in Whyte & Mackay - and according to City sources, Vivian Imerman, W&M’s chairman and chief executive, is to be offered the shares.
Imerman already owns 60 per cent of the company, and WestLB’s stake is believed to be worth around £30 million.
A spokesman for the firm was reported yesterday as saying Imerman "would be prepared to buy the shares, if the price was right".
The remainder of the firm is owned by former managers and WestLB bankers who led the £200m management buyout of the distiller in 2001.
WestLB’s plans to sell its stake have been bubbling since August. Imerman, as chief shareholder, was always expected to be given preemptive rights, or first call, over West LB’s stake when it becomes available.
However, if he chooses to turn down the offer, it could clear a way for another investor to move in, which the South African would be keen to avoid.
The firm, which has 700 staff in Scotland and owns brands including The Dalmore and Isle of Jura as well as its flagship whisky, has been spending liberally this year on a high-profile marketing and advertising campaign.
Last month, it announced that sales had leapt in the four months to the end of August.
The company sold 20,000 cases south of the Border for £2.4m during the period, compared with just 3,500 cases for £447,000 last year, fuelled by a new distribution deal with the UK’s top five supermarkets.
Last week it secured a deal to distribute its Absolut Vodka in Indian duty-free outlets from next year.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
16 Dec
2003
Imerman rebuffs talk of W&M stake sale
VIVIAN Imerman, chief executive of Whyte & Mackay, last night played down suggestions that a large stake in the whisky distiller could change hands before Christmas.
Imerman, who has built his stake in the business up to 60 per cent, has pre-emption rights over German bank WestLB’s 30 per cent share.
The bank is said to be nearing an exit from both Whyte & Mackay and Odeon, the cinema chain. Imerman told The Scotsman: "This is without foundation at this stage. Nothing can happen without my knowledge and I am not aware of it."
The remaining 10 per cent of the shares are owned by the WestLB team who led the group’s initial buyout, headed by American financier Robin Saunders.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
14 Dec
2003
Cardhu scandal turns whisky industry sour
The current row highlights the need for a statutory body to oversee the whisky industry, argues Pip Hills
The people who run Scotch whisky like their secrets. While many distilleries are open to visitors, we rarely get a glimpse of the inner workings. That is until the last few weeks, with the Cardhu malt scandal.
Diageo, the giant drinks company which owns the brand, has been at odds with the rest of the industry over its intention to continue to market Cardhu as a pure malt instead of a single malt. There have been questions in parliament. A lot of heat has been generated, but not much light.
The law is not much use here. There is no regulatory authority for Scotch. There is the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), which swung into action last week when Gordon Brown, the chancellor, proposed to stamp whisky bottles to beat tax evasion, which could cost the industry £280m annually. But it is a trade body composed of volunteers from the whisky companies.
What can legally be called Scotch whisky is defined by a Royal Commission that reported in 1909, and by penalties that teetotaller Lloyd George imposed during the first world war to keep the workers sober. It’s time to have another go. Were the Scottish parliament to appoint a Royal Commission and give statutory authority to the SWA to regulate the industry, in accordance with sensible legislation, Scotland’s second industry would get the protection it needs from overweening multinational conglomerate drinks companies that care only about their short-term stock market valuations.
Take Diageo, for example. It started the whole kerfuffle by describing Cardhu as pure malt whereas previously it had been single malt (to ease its supply problem, the company mixed in whisky from other distilleries in Cardhu bottles).
Cue general outrage. Malt’s USP has always been that the whisky from each distillery is unique. The owners of, say, Chateau Lafite, do not sneakily mix a lot of other good wines and sell them in a Lafite bottle, changing only a single word on the label.
In the case of Cardhu, the SWA has made representations to Diageo but all it has wrung from the distiller is an offer to change the colour of the label and revert to an older spelling of the name, Cardow.
By selling non-Cardhu whisky in a Cardhu bottle, the owners of just about every non-Diageo distillery say the company is confusing consumers. Diageo says in its defence that it hasn’t described it as single malt, but as pure malt, which means something different. It does, if you are party to the arcane world of whisky nomenclature, but most folk could be forgiven for not seeing much difference.
Article Courtesy of The Times
The Times
13 Dec
2003
£210k funding for whisky industry workplace project
A Project to improve productivity and the working environment in the Scotch whisky industry is to get £210,000 of Government funding.
Employment Relations Minister Gerry Sutcliffe announced the award, from the Government's Partnership Fund, yesterday.
The three-year project was set up through a partnership between the GMB union, the Scotch Whisky Association and six leading UK whisky companies.
The aim is to improve safety, boost productivity, develop employee skills and involvement, reduce absenteeism and boost staff morale.
SWA chief executive Gavin Hewitt said: "One in 50 Scottish jobs depends on Scotch whisky and one of the industry's strengths, from the distillery to the bottling line, is its people. This initiative enhances skills and expertise across the industry."
Mr Sutcliffe said: "The Partnership Fund has an excellent track record in individual workplaces but this sectoral project is far bigger and more ambitious."
The whisky industry employs more than 10,000 workers in Scotland and supports the jobs of 65,000 people across the UK.
Article Courtesy of The Press & Journal
pressandjournal
12 Dec
2003
Bid to force Brown to drop whisky plan
Scottish Conservative enterprise spokesman Murdo Fraser lodged a motion at Holyrood yesterday aimed at forcing the chancellor to drop plans for tax stamps on whisky.
Gordon Brown suggested bringing in the stamps on all spirits as a way of clamping down on fraud in his pre-budget statement on Wednesday.
But the whisky industry fears it could cost up to £280million a year to impose, threatening jobs.
Mr Fraser's motion calls on the Scottish Parliament to press the executive to make representations to London. It states that parliament recognises that tax stamps would be ineffective in combating fraud, while imposing substantial costs and practical problems on the industry.
Article Courtesy of The Press & Journal
pressandjournal
11 Dec
2003
Whisky industry fears £300m cost of duty stamp could hit jobs
THE Scotch whisky industry reacted with dismay last night to proposals by Gordon Brown which could cost nearly £300 million a year.
It said a plan to “stamp” whisky bottles to prove that duty had been paid would be prohibitively expensive and would cost jobs.
There was also little positive reaction to the Chancellor’s pledge to freeze the level of duty on whisky until the end of this parliament – which could be as early as 2005.
Alex Salmond, the Scottish National Party leader at Westminster, said: “On whisky, the strip stamps that the Chancellor announced would mean that the industry faced an annual bill of up to £280 million – more than a tenth of yearly sales – which would lead to job losses.”
Angus Robertson, SNP MP for Moray, one of Scotland’s major whisky producing areas, said the new measures could lead to closure of some of the smaller distilleries.
He said: “Any initial outlay for companies to buy the necessary application machinery will run into millions of pounds. The stamps would also have to be paid up front, presenting a cash-flow nightmare for all concerned. The cost to the industry could drive some small producers out of business.”
Mr Robertson said the “daft and expensive” scheme was blocked by cross-party opposition and the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA)two years ago.
Instead,the SNP called for a cut in duty on whisky – which it claims damages the industry and is the underlying reason for illegal sales.
Mr Robertson added: “Sadly the London government continues to treat this key Scottish employer as a cash cow and is not even prepared to cut duty and end taxation discrimination.”
Gavin Hewitt, the chief executive of the SWA said alcohol fraud must be stopped, but claimed that there were better ways to deal with the problem than the proposed tax stamps.
The SWA also claimed the proposed strip stamps, which will be stuck on bottle tops or necks, do not stop fraud in other countries and can be forged.
Mr Hewitt said:“We will be working hard to convince the Treasury that tax stamps would be a backward step, damaging productivity and competitiveness and that alternative, more risk-based measures would be more effective.”
However, there was some good news for the Scottish Executive yesterday – its annual budget will increase by £47 million as a result of the proposals announced by Mr Brown.
The vast majority of that sum is due to the massive amount that the Chancellor earmarked to help ease the council tax crisis in England, where bills have soared as local authorities struggle to balance their books.
Jack McConnell, the First Minister, faces no such constrictions about what to do with the money due to be released when Mr Brown translates his pre-Budget report into the Budget next year. Local authorities in Scotland have their budgets set on a three-yearly basis under a deal which was brokered by Mr McConnell when he was the finance minister.
Mr Brown also announced that new companies entering the North Sea will receive enhanced tax relief on their oil exploration costs. But the industry said this was of marginal benefit, falling well short of its requests.
More positively, small firms with a turnover of up to £22 million will benefit from 40 per cent capital allowances – a higher threshold.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
07 Dec
2003
Distillers fear Brown will raise taxes on spirits
WHISKY distillers, fresh from their spat over the Cardhu affair, are bracing themselves for the possibility of the first increase in excise duties on spirits since Labour returned to power.
Some economists are speculating that Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, will be forced to increase the cost of beer, spirits and cigarettes as part of his attempt to close an estimated £10bn gap in the public finances.
In his pre-budget report on Wednesday, Brown is expected to announce that Britain is on track to meet his economic growth forecasts this year, downplaying the black hole.
But sceptics say he still has to cut spending or raise taxes to balance the books and could raise indirect taxes in next year’s budget. He has not increased duty on whisky since he moved into office in 1997. Distillers and brewers will watch closely on Wednesday for any hints.
Peter Spencer, chief economic adviser to Ernst & Young’s Item Club, said whisky distillers should be prepared for a rise at some stage. "He is scratching around for revenue. Whisky has been let off for so many years. Spirits are cheap compared with anything else," he said.
The whisky industry will switch attention to fighting its corner on tax after settling its row with Diageo. Industry sources told Scotland on Sunday that the spirits company was allowed to save face in last week’s agreement over Cardhu ‘pure malt’ whisky.
There was talk of a ‘deal within a deal’ before the official meeting of the Scotch Whisky Association on Thursday to ensure Diageo was not humiliated and was seen to be complying with a consensus view. It was announced that an industry-wide agreement had been reached to protect the integrity of malts by clarifying Scotch whisky categories.
But Tony Hunt, deputy group managing director of William Grant & Sons, later added distillers would do everything they could to comply with the rules, "retrospectively and going forward". One industry source said it meant last Thursday’s agreement could be reviewed, which might reopen the arguments.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
07 Dec
2003
Exporters hit by new US bio-terror rules
COMPANIES exporting food and drink to the US will be forced to disclose sensitive commercial information or be stopped from exporting entirely under anti-terrorism rules due to come into effect this week.
The US bio-terrorism act - designed to protect against poison attacks - could lead to tonnes of Scottish produce being impounded or destroyed. Scotland exports about £320m worth of produce to the US every year, supporting an estimated 5,500 jobs.
One company contacted by Scotland on Sunday said the volume of paperwork involved had led it to stop exporting to the US. Others were unaware of the new rules.
Under the act, food and drink producers must register their manufacturing sites and fill in an online form for every item of produce sent to the US from Saturday. The US Food and Drug Administration will issue a number, allowing the product to get through customs. Produce which does not carry a number or has been wrongly labelled could be destroyed.
‘For a specialist food retailer the paperwork is just a non-starter’
The new rules are designed to protect US citizens from poison attacks, but some food and drink producers believe it will create unnecessary red tape and could be damaging. A spokesman for the Scotch Whisky Association said: "We recognise the objectives, but the European alcoholic beverage industry has expressed reservations about how appropriate and proportionate the regulations are."
The SWA is worried producers may have to reveal secrets about each individual spirit that goes into blended whiskies and vatted malts. The US is the world’s biggest market for Scotch whisky. Distillers are also concerned that the ‘prior notification’ rules will overlap with existing customs forms to create unnecessary paperwork.
Although the legislation comes into force this week, whisky producers have until next spring to argue against full disclosure.
Scottish food exports to the US are worth around £20m per year, supporting roughly 500 jobs. Philip Contini, the managing director of Valvona & Crolla, the Edinburgh delicatessen, said the new rules had forced him to give up exporting to the US. He said: "We are just staying away from that completely. For a specialist food retailer the paperwork is just a non-starter."
Despite the hard line taken by the US, a number of food exporters were not aware of the new legislation. Jane Twelves, whose South Uist-based company, Salar, exports smoked salmon to the US by post, said she had not been informed.
The rules could create a glut of produce in Europe, reducing the amount farmers and food manufacturers can charge for their products. Scottish Enterprise said it was aware of the legislation but had not sent information to all Scotland’s food exporters. Around 20 companies attended an SE event in September which focused on US bio-terrorism regulations.
Wine merchants in the US have complained that the new rules mean it will be harder for them to import foreign products. The Royal Mail last week said it would not accept manufactured food or drink destined for the US without an FDA notification number from December 13.
The FDA said online export applications should take around 15 minutes per item.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
05 Dec
2003
Whisky sour as deal leaves a nippy taste
AN UNEASY calm has settled over the whisky industry. Yesterday, it was announced that an agreement had been reached in the dispute over Cardhu "pure malt".
Just hours earlier, a militant faction looked likely to force resignations from the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA). But the critics were placated and Diageo, owner of the Cardhu brand, had compromised. The executive of the SWA brokered a deal and a schism was avoided...
Click here for full story
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
04 Dec
2003
Whisky row showdown
TRADITION dictates that when the council of the Scotch Whisky Association dines on the eve of a meeting, a topic is chosen for discussion that is of relevant concern to the industry. As the SWA gathered in the Long Room of Edinburgh’s New Club last night, they talked about the retirement of Hugh Morison, its long-standing chief executive.
This morning, the 16-member council, including the chief executives of Diageo, Allied Domecq, Edrington Group and Glenmorangie, will get down to the real issue - resolving the issue of Diageo’s decision to label a blend of malt whiskies from five different Speyside distilleries as Cardhu Pure Malt.
It is a meeting analysts have billed as the most important the whisky industry has faced in a quarter of a century. It could also determine the future of the SWA, with some industry sources suggesting it could pursue legal action against Diageo in London and Europe.
The Scotsman has learned that the SWA will tell the industry that it should seek a compromise with Diageo, put the affair behind them and move forward. Diageo will come to the table with proposals it hopes will placate the industry - including a plan to change the colour of the label and cartons of Cardhu pure malt from brown to green and a pledge to carry out a strategic review of the brand early next year, maybe involving changing the shape of the bottle.
Diageo will pledge to undertake a major advertising campaign in Spain, explaining the changes to the consumer and will promise not to introduce Cardhu Pure Malt into the UK market for 12 months.
They will apologise to the industry but insist they are right in principle and will not withdraw the product.
Last night, one industry analyst said it could go one of three ways. He said: "The best scenario would be that the SWA reach an agreement with Diageo to withdraw the product. Failing that, the SWA could reach a deal where Diageo keep the product but promise a redesign of the bottle and the package. Thirdly there could be a situation where Diageo do not budge, a schism emerges and a few militant distillers pursue the course of legal action outside of the SWA."
One of the problems facing Gavin Hewitt, new chief executive of the SWA, when he sits round the table in Edinburgh today is that a handful of distillers are adamant that the only solution is for Diageo to withdraw the product. Others are willing to put the issue behind them.
Last night, a senior industry source, who has not spoken on this issue to the press until now, said he thought Diageo’s proposals didn’t go far enough and today’s meeting will be critical for the future of the SWA.
He said: "If we do not get an agreement and there is a schism in the industry, this could be the end of the SWA. There is a real concern that senior politicians will turn around and say that the whisky industry is supposed to be self-regulating and that we have to get our house in order."
Another insider said: "From a commercial standpoint, I sympathise with Diageo. This maybe is the wrong decision, but although Jonathan Driver may have made a mistake with Cardhu he has done a lot of good for malt whisky."
The SWA emphasised that there will be an extensive agenda, alongside discussions aimed at reaching a solution on Cardhu that is in the best interests of the whole industry.
A spokesperson said: "The meeting will also discuss next week’s Pre-Budget report, how best to tackle trade barriers abroad, the 2004 Budget, as well as a range of other important issues facing distillers."
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
03 Dec
2003
Malt-row distillers threaten EU action
INDEPENDENT distillers across Scotland are considering legal action in both Britain and Europe against industry giant Diageo in a dramatic escalation of the Cardhu malt whisky row.
The Scotsman has learned that a City law firm has advised a number of distillers that independent single-malt whisky producers may be able to take action against Diageo through a complaint to the European Union competition authorities in Brussels or to a national competition regulator such as the Office of Fair Trading in the UK.
The Scotsman has also learned that the Scottish Whisky Association (SWA) made it clear to Diageo that more concessions will be needed if they are to reach a compromise at a planned meeting on Thursday.
However, industry sources last night warned that a protracted legal battle could result in a schism within the Scotch whisky sector, which could harm the business in the long term. Diageo has angered the Scotch industry with its decision to sell Cardhu pure malt in the same style of bottle as the single malt and with the name of the Speyside single-malt distillery on the label. Distillers claim the decision could damage the industry and confuse drinkers into thinking Cardhu was still a single malt, rather than a blend.
The city law firm Norton Rose argues that Diageo represents a real threat to smaller, independent single-malt Scotch whisky producers and that in the long term this must be against the interests of consumers.
The legal advice, commissioned by some of Scotland’s leading distillers, says: "Diageo own more distilleries in Scotland than anyone else. Therefore, they are always likely to have a surplus of stock in several of them, which they can fill in the Cardhu bottle, even if they have no actual Cardhu single malt.
"This is a major economic advantage over smaller companies who are fighting to maintain the authenticity of the single malt category. The entire Scotch whisky industry is unanimous in its opposition to the move that Diageo has made, which is seen as being a threat to the global reputation of Scotch."
Last night, one industry source described the possibility of a legal move as "crazy". He said: "If lawyers get involved, positions get entrenched and a solution is harder to find. The threat of legal action could jeopardise a deal."
Diageo has made several concessions, including a pledge not to introduce Cardhu pure malt in any further markets until substantial changes to the packaging are introduced next spring.
A spokesman for the SWA said: "We are working to achieve a resolution at the meeting on Thursday and will be looking at a number of solutions."
Diageo refused to comment on the threat of legal action last night, saying it was "fed up" with leaks in the press and the proper forum for debate was through the SWA on Thursday.
The news comes just days after it emerged that the EC is set to investigate Diageo’s decision to turn its Cardhu single malt into a blend of five malts.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
30 Nov
2003
Whisky's reputation 'under threat'
A decision by drinks giant Diageo to change the composition of the famous Cardhu malt has caused waves of protest around the world.
Diageo's global brand director told BBC Scotland News Online that the implications of the move had been distorted and over-dramatised.
However, rival whisky maker William Grant & Sons, whose products include Glenfiddich and The Balvenie, claims the industry's reputation is being damaged.
Its deputy group managing director tells us why...
Click here for full story
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
30 Nov
2003
European probe launched into Diageo dispute
THE row engulfing the Scotch whisky industry has intensified even further, after it emerged that the European Commission is set to investigate Diageo’s decision to turn its Cardhu single malt into a blend of five different malts.
The EC will examine the matter after receiving a letter of objection to Diageo’s move from European Parliament president Pat Cox.
It will investigate whether Diageo’s decision to alter its Cardhu product without making noticeable changes to the whisky’s packaging constitutes an infringement of internal market or consumer protection regulations...
Click here for full story
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
30 Nov
2003
Tourist drive brings malt out of mothballs
WHISKY from a distillery once mothballed will go on sale later this year as part of a plan to create a new tourist attraction in rural Perthshire.
A few thousand cases of Tullibardine whisky will be placed on the market over the next few months following a label and carton redesign by Wolffe & Co, the Edinburgh consultancy.
Tullibardine distillery, near Gleneagles, was sold by the drinks group Whyte & Mackay to a Scottish consortium earlier this year. Jim Beam Brands, Whyte & Mackay’s predecessor, stopped production at the site in 1994.
Doug Ross, one of Tullibardine’s directors, said sales of spirit distilled in 1993 would increase gradually over the next 10 years. It will be priced as a mid-market malt at around £23 a bottle.
Ross said: "Rather than have to find distributors, we plan to sell it through upmarket outlets such as quality hotels."
£10m visitor centre will provide distillery tours, shops and a restaurant
The new-look bottle should be in a limited number of shops and bars by Christmas. Michael Beamish, another director, said the previous packaging had looked "generic" and that the new label conveyed more individuality. Whisky made this year has to be aged for 10 years and so will not be available until 2013.
The company plans to produce about 100,000 litres a year, putting it on a level with smaller distilleries such as Edradour, which is also in Perthshire.
Customers will be able to pay up front for individual casks containing the equivalent of about 360 bottles.
Ross estimated a few hundred casks would be sold, generating about £160,000.
He said: "We have not been forced into doing this to survive. It is to meet demand from the public and aficionados. If you view [buying a cask] as an investment, it might not make sense, but people like the idea."
In the meantime, Tullibardine plans to generate cash by building a £10m tourism attraction and retail centre at the site, which is close to the busy A9 Stirling-to-Perth road.
The 50,000sq ft centre will provide distillery tours and a related exhibition, as well as a restaurant and retail centre including a Baxters food shop.
It aims to attract 250,000 customers a year. Plans are in the process of being drawn up by 442 Design, the Edinburgh agency.
Tullibardine is one of a number of small distilleries which have been reopened or built from scratch over the past 10 years, including Ladybank in Fife and Blackwood in Shetland.
The company is part of the industry majority which has criticised drinks group Diageo’s plan to sell a mixture of malt whiskies under the Cardhu brand name.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
29 Nov
2003
Whiskies galore
The story of how an old neglected Islay distillery was rescued and revived by a team of young private investors a couple of years ago is now familiar to whisky lovers. The new owners of Bruichladdich on the shores of Loch Indaal now call themselves the free spirits and "enfant terribles" of the whisky world. I’d call them today’s heroes; a high-spirited team of Davids fighting against a world of corporate Goliaths. The latest rash of "Laddie" bottlings are some of the best on the malt shelf today - ideal for celebrating St Andrew’s Day tomorrow...
Click here for full story
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
27 Nov
2003
Pure malt row sees Diageo frozen out
WHEN Diageo sits down next week with members of the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) to defend its decision to brand Cardhu as a "pure" rather than "single" malt, it will find itself completely isolated.
The Scotsman has learned that the executive of the SWA has told Diageo that it feels the only solution to the present crisis is for the world’s biggest drinks company to withdraw its controversial Cardhu Pure Malt product.
The Scotch whisky industry has been angered by Diageo’s decision to sell the whisky in the same style of bottle and with the name of its Speyside distillery on the label. Distillers claim the decision could damage the industry and confuse drinkers into thinking Cardhu was still a single malt, rather than a blend...
Click here for full story
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
26 Nov
2003
Whisky market
The whisky industry spends around £90 million a year with Scottish cereal suppliers, and uses about half of all the cereals grown in Scotland. The suggestion by ET Baxter (Letters, 22 November) that distillers have "halved the price they pay" for barley ignores the reality of movements in world prices, and the fact that growers’ contracts are generally with malting companies, not distillers.
The suggestion that a higher price paid by distillers for barley would cost the industry just a few pence a bottle ignores the highly competitive nature of the international drinks market in which whisky operates, and the fact that the majority of the retail price is tax, not money going to distillers.
Many distillers already buy all their barley from Scottish sources, and often do so while paying a premium to ensure continuity of supply under branded contracts. But, given the vagaries of the weather it is unrealistic to suggest that all barley used by the industry must be grown in Scotland.
The brandy industry’s reliance on French grapes in the late 1800s led to its demise when the crop failed, allowing whisky to flourish and become the global industry it is today.
No-one with the best interests of Scotland’s economy at heart will place the future of Scotland’s leading indigenous industry at the mercy of the Scottish climate.
CAMPBELL EVANS
Scotch Whisky Association
Atholl Crescent
Edinburgh
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
23 Nov
2003
Right spirit of self-censorship
ALLIED Domecq, the drinks company, has appointed advisers to vet its ads for those which may link alcohol with sexual success, or... irresponsible drinking.
The company, which owns brands including Ballantine’s whisky and Harveys Bristol Cream, is believed to be taking the unusual step to convince public health officials that the drinks industry does not need external regulation. Wishing to prove how responsible it is, Allied has even withdrawn an ad - which has never been shown - for Wet By Beefeater, a cocktail version of Beefeater gin.
It showed a man and a woman at a piano with the slogan: "When he looked at her like that she knew she would get wet."
What’s the world coming to?
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
22 Nov
2003
No barley will mean no whisky industry
Until responsibility for the whisky industry is transferred to Edinburgh, the Cardhu saga will remain a mar-ginal interest for London politicians.
The rural development minister, Ross Finnie, is "consulting" on the future of Scottish agriculture, but while Diageo is able to treat malt whisky as a commodity and source the raw ingredients for it from anywhere in the world, the future of Scottish agriculture is not in our hands.
The few multinationals which own our distilling industry have halved the price they pay for low nitrogen malting barley in the last seven years. Prices are now below the cost of production, so without subsidy there would be no malting barley grown in Scotland.
To pay farmers a price which did give them a return would cost only pence per bottle. It, therefore, comes as no surprise that an industry which treats its supply base with such disdain is as cavalier with the reputation of its final product.
The organisation, Linking Environment and Farming, of which I am chairman, promotes integrated farm management, a discipline for farmers which shows the way. However, without a realistic price from the distillers for our malting barley there will be no future for Scottish agriculture.
In time, Scotland will have no whisky industry either; no barley grown in Scotland means it will be cheaper to make whisky elsewhere.
ET BAXTER
Gilston
nr Leven, Fife
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
21 Nov
2003
£7,500 bid offer for trip to Macallan
A Listener to one of radio's most popular breakfast shows has paid £7,500 for an exclusive trip to the Macallan Distillery on Speyside.
William Jones made the highest offer after an hour's frenzied bidding during the BBC's Children In Need auction on yesterday's Wake Up With Wogan programme.
It will see Mr Jones, from the Isle of Man, flown north along with a friend and treated to a VIP tour of the distillery near Craigellachie.
They will be given access to the Macallan's unique £14.5million Fine and Rare range of vintage malt whiskies which is normally kept well under lock and key. The most expensive bottle in the range is worth £20,000.
Mr Jones and his guest will stay at the Craigellachie Hotel and they will be served lunch or dinner in the dining-room at Easter Elchies House, the distillery's spiritual home overlooking the River Spey.
They will also be given a tutored nosing and tasting by Bob Dalgarno, the Macallan's whisky maker. Carol McLaren, of the Macallan team which arranged the auction prize, said staff at the distillery were delighted with the amount the Macallan trip had raised for Children In Need. "The distillery team pride themselves in the warm welcome they give all our visitors to ensure that each and every guest enjoys the uniquely exclusive atmosphere at the Macallan," she said.
"But the winners of today's auction prize can be sure that absolutely all the stops will be pulled out for their visit.
"They will enjoy the truly unforgettable malt whisky experience of a lifetime."
Article Courtesy of The Press & Journal
pressandjournal
20 Nov
2003
Glenmorangie sees malt sales rise 10%
GLENMORANGIE continued its march on the growing malt whisky market yesterday after reporting an 8 per cent increase in half-year profits on the back of growth of 10 per cent in its flagship brand.
Chief executive Paul Neep said the group continues to make good progress against all strategic objectives and emphasised that developing and building premium brands for the long term remains the firm’s key objective.
Focusing on the Far East, Neep said that in real terms the percentage of Glenmorangie’s business in Asia was relatively small, but he was looking to grow that in the next decade.
Neep said: "There are some interesting markets for malt in the Far East, particularly in Korea and Taiwan, and we are looking at their potential."
The company said shipments of its Glenmorangie malts rose 10 per cent, while its Glen Moray brand was ahead 8 per cent, spurred by the "Glen of Tranquility" advertising campaign that will continue over Christmas.
Overseas sales were strongest in the US with Glenmorangie outperforming rivals, while sales in Canada doubled.
The alliance with Bacardi-Martini brought instant rewards in the UK with its marketing strengths enabling Glenmorangie to capture market share from competitors.
It also gave it a distribution platform in Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Austria and Switzerland.
The company began bottling the new cream spirit brand Drambuie Sylk in July and this has been introduced to the US market. Neep said the tie-in with Drambuie was a "win-win" for both parties, but he ruled out the possibility of a takeover.
"It is a private company, it is not for sale and we have never shown an interest in buying it."
Neep added that an expansion at its Glenmorangie distillery had lifted output, while its Ardbeg distillery on Islay is currently operating at more than 90 per cent capacity. Glenmorangie has three distilleries, in Tain, Elgin and Islay, and employs 295 full-time staff.
The Ardbeg brand has entered the top ten malts in the off-trade sector, but Neep warned that heady sales growth of 20-30 per cent would soon slow due to limited stocks inherited in 1997 with the distillery, which was mothballed during the 1980s.
He also cautioned that a sustained recovery of world economies continued to be uncertain, and he anticipated the medium term environment towards higher UK interest rates could affect consumer spending in the home market.
Drinks analyst Fulton Patterson at Seymour Pierce said that there was great potential in the next few years as the benefits of the Brown-Forman and Bacardi tie-ups was just starting to come through.
Patterson said: "I think they are a well-managed business now, the new guys in charge are showing their mettle.
"Christmas is absolutely vital for them of course. They are now number one in the UK having overtaken Glenfiddich, gearing has come down again.
"The Far East is starting to move quite nicely, all these things are quite promising. I think they will carry on growing and go from strength to strength."
The dividend was increased by 7 per cent to 4.5p per A ordinary share (which carry limited voting rights) and 2.25p per B ordinary share, reflecting continued confidence in the groups prospects.
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
20 Nov
2003
Distillers meet to talk over diageo issue
The Scotch whisky industry has backed down on threats to sue drinks giant Diageo for labelling Cardhu a "pure malt" after changing the contents.
But senior directors of the major distillers still plan to pursue the matter with the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA).
About 60 distillers met in Glasgow yesterday to discuss what action they should take against Diageo for changing Cardhu from a single malt to a blend of malts from different distilleries.
It is understood the vast majority of single-malt distillers were represented, including Allied Domecq, Chivas Brothers, William Grant & Sons, Morrison Bowmore and John Dewar and Sons.
Diageo, which owns such brands as Guinness, Smirnoff and Baileys, changed the recipe of Cardhu because of a shortage of single-malt whisky to supply the profitable Spanish market.
The industry believes changing the wording on the label from "single malt" to "pure malt" will confuse customers and undermine the prestigious and profitable single-malt market.
Senior directors from the main whisky companies wrote to Diageo and the SWA yesterday about the marketing of Cardhu.
Their message was that the industry cannot compromise on the protection of single-malt whisky and Diageo should reconsider using the name Cardhu - which has been a single malt for 30 years - for a mixture of malt whiskies.
A spokesman for the group said: "We are confident that sense will prevail."
Diageo's president for Europe, Ian Meakins, said he was pleased the other companies had agreed to pursue the matter with the SWA.
"As previously stated, we have at all times sought to resolve the issue with the rest of the industry through the SWA," he said.
"'We remain committed to the long-term future of the SWA as the best forum for continuing this debate and seeking to develop a common and coherent voice for Scotch whisky.
"Diageo's commitment to Scotch whisky is absolute. We want the Scotch whisky category to grow and expand. We recognise that innovating in an industry renowned for tradition over modernity has provoked animated discussion."
SNP MEP Ian Hudghton has stepped into the fray on the side of the disgruntled distillers.
He has approached the European Commission to see if the term single malt could be recognised and protected under the EU's Agriculture Quality Policy.
Article Courtesy of The Press & Journal
pressandjournal
19 Nov
2003
Distillers single-minded over malt
THE Scotch whisky industry last night united against Diageo over its decision to relaunch Cardhu as a "pure malt".
At a crunch meeting behind closed doors at the Glasgow offices of Morrison Bowmore, senior executives from all of the major distillers rallied behind the industry’s representative body, the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) , saying it still had a "significant role to play" in the resolution of the issue.
It is understood that, after a "gentlemen’s agreement", it was decided that a statement will not be issued until Glenmorangie reports its interim results to the City at 8 am today.
But last night a source close to the meeting said it had resulted in a unanimous condemnation of Diageo’s actions. He said: "The industry is very concerned about the Diageo move and we will be working with the Scotch Whisky Association to resolve the issue."
It is believed the vast majority of single malt distillers were present at the meeting, including executives from Allied Domecq, Chivas Brothers, William Grant’s and John Dewar and Sons.
Diageo’s move to change the Cardhu bottle’s contents from a single malt to a vatted malt from five distilleries without changing its name has caused outrage in the industry.
On Thursday, a meeting between Diageo managers and Scottish MPs to try to resolve the dispute ended inconclusively.
Diageo insists it will not back down, claiming the change at Cardhu will boost the £20-a-bottle whisky's profile.
All eyes now turn to the SWA’s next meeting on 4 December where industry leaders will meet Diageo to try to reach a compromise.
Last night, Diageo said that, ultimately, the issue had to be resolved by the SWA.
After reaching the floor of the House of Commons last week, it was the European parliament’s turn to discuss the issue when the SNP MEP, Professor Neil MacCormick, asked the president of the European parliament to write to Diageo’s chief executive.
Speaking in the opening session of the parliament’s plenary session in Strasbourg, Prof MacCormick said that brand owners should not mislead the public by abuse of a well-known name.
Prof MacCormick said: "Just as we should be concerned when counterfeiters abuse rightholders, so we should be alert when rightholders abuse consumer confidence.
"Diageo, the global spirits producer, has lately done this very thing. It is not the single product of a single distillery. Consumers are being misled, and the good name of Scotch whisky is being put at risk."
Last week Angus Robertson, the Scottish National Party MP, called on the Prime Minister to support cross-party efforts to force Diageo into a U-turn. He told the House of Commons that Diageo was "undermining the standing of this important industry".
A wary Tony Blair told the Commons: "I will look into this issue. I am not entirely sure this is a matter for government. At least, I sincerely hope it’s not a matter for government."
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
19 Nov
2003
Fiddlers' whisky gig in Frankfurt
It's a long way to go for a Saturday night gig, but the 14 teenage fiddlers flying to Frankfurt this weekend to play at a European whisky festival are not complaining.
Moray musical group Strathspey Fiddlers have been invited to perform at mainland Europe's biggest whisky festival.
A combination trade fair and festival of whisky culture, InterWhisky 2003 features three days of talks and tastings of whiskies from Scotland, Ireland, Canada and in the USA.
Whisky is big business in Germany, with German retail stores selling approximately 12million bottles of Scotch whisky last year, and about 300 people are expected to attend the weekend festival.
The event will culminate in a Scottish dinner in the Inter-Continental Hotel, with entertainment provided by the Strathspey Fiddlers.
The performance will not be limited to fiddling, according to group leader Donald Barr. The teenagers from Huntly, Keith and Buckie will also provide piping, dancing and singing.
He said: "Performing for 300 people from all over Europe is going to be great fun." The fiddlers will leave Scotland early on Saturday morning and return the next day.
During their brief visit, the group will be treated in style, staying overnight at the five-star hotel where the dinner is taking place.
Several area distilleries will be represented at the festival, including Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, Glenrothes and Strathisla.
Article Courtesy of The Press & Journal
pressandjournal
18 Nov
2003
Water of life's secrets sold off
IT HAS been Scotland’s number one indigenous export since Friar John Cor first appeared in the Exchequer Rolls with eight bolls of malt in 1494. But now the £2 billion whisky industry is not only exporting the water of life but also the means and materials to make it...
Click here for full story
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
18 Nov
2003
Diageo chief's £50,000 shares windfall
DIAGEO, the drinks giant, launched an offensive yesterday to rebuff accusations that it was forced to blend its single malt brand Cardhu because it had misjudged stock levels.
In an interview with The Scotsman, Jonathan Driver, the company’s global malt whisky director, said it was a strategic move aimed at building on the success Cardhu had enjoyed in Spain.
Mr Driver said: "We are not short of Cardhu, but we have reached capacity. The issue here, and the vocabulary is very important, is strategic. Shortage is not the issue. I repeat, we are not short of Cardhu."
However, the issue has put the world’s largest drinks group at odds with the rest of the whisky industry.
Yesterday, the row took another turn when an SNP MP, Angus Robertson, warned Tony Blair that Diageo’s decision to change a brand of single malt to a blend risked "undermining the standing" of the industry.
Mr Blair said he was not sure it was a matter for government, adding: "At least I sincerely hope that it’s not a matter for government."
Critics were angered when the company announced plans to sell the whisky in the same style of bottle and with the name of its Speyside distillery on the label.
They claimed the decision could both damage the industry and confuse drinkers into thinking Cardhu was still a single malt, rather than a blend.
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
17 Nov
2003
Distiller's sales jump
WHYTE & Mackay, the privately-owned whisky distiller formerly known as Kyndal, has reaped the benefits of a push into England and Wales following a jump in sales for the four months to the end of August.
The company sold 20,000 cases south of the Border - worth a total of £2.4 million - during the period compared with just 3500 cases, for £447,000, last year.
Whyte & Mackay said a distribution deal with the UK’s top five supermarkets had fuelled the rise.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
14 Nov
2003
McConnell and MPs intervene in industry rift over single malt
It followed a second meeting between the all-party Commons scotch whisky group and Diageo directors in an attempt to heal a serious rift in the industry between those anxious to preserve the integrity of "single" malt brands and the decision of Diageo to replace its former single malt Cardhu with a blend of malts, calling it "pure malt"...
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Article Courtesy of ThePress & Journal
pressandjournal
13 Nov
2003
Domecq chiefs gain 38% bonus increases
ALLIED DOMECQ, the wines and spirits group, increased the performancerelated bonuses of three of its top executives by more than 38 per cent in its past financial year, even though the company’s share price fell by 7 per cent during the same period.
The world’s second biggest drinks company paid Philip Bowman, chief executive, a performance-related bonus of £1.04 million for the year to August 31, a 40 per cent rise on the year before. Graham Hetherington, chief financial officer, received a £507,000 bonus, up from £366,000 last time. Meanwhile, David Scotland, president of the wine division, received a 63 per cent increase in his bonus, bringing it to £542,000 for the year.
The company defended the bonuses, saying they were “commensurate with the much more demanding economic conditions in many of the relevant markets”.
In October the maker of Ballantine Scotch whisky and Beefeater gin reported a 3 per cent rise in full-year pre-tax profits to £480 million. The company said it was the worst market since 1999, as the war in Iraq and the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) hit demand.
A company spokesman said: “It’s true that our headline earnings per share figure rose by only 3 per cent — but we were hit by the decline in the value of the dollar and an increase in pension payments. When these exceptional items are stripped away we increased underlying profits by 20 per cent.”.
Article Courtesy of The Times
The Times
13 Nov
2003
Distiller defends Cardhu blend
DIAGEO, the drinks giant, launched an offensive yesterday to rebuff accusations that it was forced to blend its single malt brand Cardhu because it had misjudged stock levels.
In an interview with The Scotsman, Jonathan Driver, the company’s global malt whisky director, said it was a strategic move aimed at building on the success Cardhu had enjoyed in Spain.
Mr Driver said: "We are not short of Cardhu, but we have reached capacity. The issue here, and the vocabulary is very important, is strategic. Shortage is not the issue. I repeat, we are not short of Cardhu."
However, the issue has put the world’s largest drinks group at odds with the rest of the whisky industry.
Yesterday, the row took another turn when an SNP MP, Angus Robertson, warned Tony Blair that Diageo’s decision to change a brand of single malt to a blend risked "undermining the standing" of the industry.
Mr Blair said he was not sure it was a matter for government, adding: "At least I sincerely hope that it’s not a matter for government."
Critics were angered when the company announced plans to sell the whisky in the same style of bottle and with the name of its Speyside distillery on the label.
They claimed the decision could both damage the industry and confuse drinkers into thinking Cardhu was still a single malt, rather than a blend.
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
12 Nov
2003
Rebirth of one of Scotland's oldest whiskies
TULLIBARDINE, one of Scotland’s oldest distilleries, will re-open for business at the end of the month almost ten years after it was closed down.
The distillery, in Blackford just south of Gleneagles in Perthshire, will distill a limited production of Tullibardine Single Malt.
Doug Ross, a director of Tullibardine, the consortium which bought the site for £10 million in June, described the reopening as the culmination of a long-term dream.
Mr Ross said: "We have spent a significant sum in restoring the distillery. When we acquired it from Whyte and Mackay in the summer it was in a state that had been sympathetically de-commissioned. All the kit was in good condition but since then we have fitted and upgraded the pumps, valves, pipes and made them more efficient."
Described by Michael Jackson, author of the Malt Whisky Companion, as "eminently quaffable", the whisky has a soft, sweetish, lemony style with a vanilla like spiciness.
Customers will be offered the chance to buy a personalised cask which will be kept in a warehouse for a period of ten years. The casks, on the market at £800, can be labelled, bottled and distributed to the owner’s specifications.
The original distillery dates back to the late 1790s. Home to Highland Spring, Blackford also boasts the site of one the oldest breweries in the UK, dating back to 1488 when it produced a special ale for the coronation of King James IV at Scone.
In the 1970s, Tullibardine was taken over by Invergordon before being mothballed in 1994.
David Williamson, of the Scotch Whisky Association, said: "There has been an encouraging trend of whisky distilleries being reopened and redeveloped and this is good news for the industry."
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
11 Nov
2003
Whisky galore not for Iain
IAIN Banks’s latest oeuvre, Raw Spirit is primarily about whisky but also "an idiosyncratic journal which is part travel book".
The publishers insisted that Banks, "a bit of a petrol head", should drive round the distilleries. But isn’t it funny how whenever publishers commission a Scottish writer to do a book on whisky, they make sure they do it on wheels? Obviously, they do not trust them otherwise to stay sober. Our old mucker on the Diary, Tom Morton, had to do his on a motorbike with sidecar.
Meantime, Banks usually enjoys a dram at his local, the Albert Hotel in North Queensferry, where he was featured in the foodie section of a Sunday magazine this weekend. The Albert’s hostess, Rhona Campbell, was saying, though, that he is not the only famous customer: "Gordon Brown has a house in the village, so he pops in for drinks. Tony Blair used to come with Mr Brown, but he hasn’t been in since Labour has been in power."
Now, there’s a surprise. But where better to build bridges than on the Forth? The Albert can replace Granita - or even Montpeliers - as the scene of Labour’s new deal.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
10 Nov
2003
Distillers in singular threat to Diageo dram
A Row at the heart of the whisky industry is threatening to spill over into the courts.
It comes after industry giant Diageo provoked anger among rival distillers by attempting to pass off a blend of whiskies as a prestigious single malt.
Now a group of distillers have come together to explore the possibility of legal action against Diageo. They say the move could clearly establish a legally binding definition of single malt and benefit the industry.
Representatives from about 60 brands are due to meet in Glasgow a week tomorrow. A civil action of consumer deception against Diageo has already been mooted.
The row flared up after Diageo changed the recipe of one of Speyside's most popular malts, Cardhu. Instead of being a traditional single 12-year-old malt, it is now being made from vatted malt from several distilleries, although it is still being sold as Cardhu.
The only change Diageo has made to the label is to substitute the word "single" with "pure".
Rivals claim that the move will mislead customers and could seriously damage the worldwide reputation of the Scotch whisky industry.
Diageo, which accounts for about half of Scotland's whisky distilling, said it announced changes to Cardhu in July after stocks of the single malt ran low and led to fears they may not be able to meet increasing demand. It is mainly marketing the "pure" malt in Spain at the moment, then will move into Portugal, France, Italy and Greece. It should be available in the UK in about a year.
Diageo says it has carried out publicity, advertising, tasting and consumer education, particularly in Spain to ensure consumers are aware of the change.
Scottish Whisky Association spokesman David Williamson said: "The Scottish Whisky Association is very much involved in discussions about changes to protect and allay the concerns expressed by some member companies.
"We will have discussions with Diageo about the matter to find a way ahead in the best interests of the whole industry."
John Grant, managing director of J & G Grant of Speyside, which makes Glenfarclas, said: "They are misleading the public by selling Cardhu in the same bottle, with the same packaging it has had for years, when what's in the bottle is not Cardhu.
"In my opinion, it sets a dangerous precedent."
Article Courtesy of ThePress & Journal
pressandjournal
09 Nov
2003
Diageo hits back in whisky wars
DIAGEO, the Scotch whisky producer at the centre of an increasingly bitter row over a new, vatted version of its 12-year old Cardhu malt, has hit back at claims that its controversial changes will harm the industry and predicted others would follow in order to grow their exports.
Jonathan Driver, Diageo’s global malt whisky director, last night defended his decision to turn Cardhu single malt into a pure malt - a mixture of five whiskies from various Speyside distilleries - to keep up with demand.
He said rival distillers should welcome his innovation as a way of staving off competition from other spirits categories such as vodka and rum.
He told Scotland on Sunday: "If this is successful, others will follow. That doesn’t mean the end of single malts - it means it is a better and bigger malts category at the end of it all. I genuinely believe innovation is required to take the malt whisky business to the next level."
Diageo is already distributing the Cardhu pure malt in Spain, France, Portugal and Greece after runaway success grew sales by 200,000 cases in little over a decade.
It is also testing the concept in the US, despite the new product isolating Diageo from the rest of the Scotch whisky industry at home. Others are concerned the move will tarnish the reputation of the industry, which had exports worth £2.28bn last year.
But Driver’s comments were described last night as "wishful thinking" by Tony Hunt, deputy managing director of William Grant & Sons, which is leading the opposition.
Hunt accused Diageo of capitalising on the ignorance of Spanish consumers - the biggest drinkers of Cardhu. "The reason why single malt as a category has become the jewel in the crown as far as the Scotch whisky industry is concerned is because we haven’t taken shortcuts," he said.
But Driver said he was ready for the controversy that would meet the launch of the pure malt that it first dreamt up two years ago.
He revealed that limited inventory and growing popularity of single malts had been a looming "crisis point" for Diageo since the company was created in 1997 from the merger of Guinness and GrandMet. It has been selling its Lagavulin single malt at capacity for the past four years. Oban, which sells 64,000 cases a year, has since followed suit, and Dalwhinnie is not far behind in hitting the ceiling of supply.
But Driver rejected the idea that the pure malt concept could be spread to the rest of his portfolio. He said: "Our Lagavulin consumers would have simply rejected the whole proposition."
However, he argues that Cardhu, which has become the fastest-growing malt whisky in the world, is another matter.
"To a Cardhu consumer, to say it comes from a small valley on Speyside is just a little bit too much information when there is so much else that people adore about it," he said, predicting others would follow suit to grow their brands globally.
Driver will appear before the all-party Scotch Whisky Industry group again this Thursday.
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
08 Nov
2003
MPs take shot at resolving Cardhu crisis
SENIOR Westminster MPs are trying to end the dispute over plans to change the make-up of one of Scotland’s top malt whiskies.
Diageo, which has its Scots HQ in Edinburgh, wants to end the production of Cardhu single malt and instead produce a blend of different malts.
They want to label this as "pure malt’’, claiming that existing stocks of the original product are running low.
But small single malt producers are outraged at this potential dilution of their major selling point. Some rival producers - including John Grant, who produce Glenfarclas - are threatening legal action.
William Grant and Glenfiddich are also outraged. They have warned of major sales slumps in the key United States and Japanese markets if the change goes ahead.
The meeting was hosted by Angus Robertson, Scottish Nationalist MP for Moray - home to 50 per cent of Scotland’s distilleries including Cardhu, and included Treasury Select Committee chairman John McFall, who represents Dumbarton.
Following the meeting Diageo has committed itself to talks to try to resolve the dispute, saying it would discuss "concrete solutions".
Over recent weeks the bitter dispute has divided the whisky industry, which has seen threats of legal action and a possible split in the industry body the Scotch Whisky Association.
Speaking after the meeting Mr Robertson MP, who is vice-chairman of the All-Party Scotch Whisky Industry group, said: "This is a positive development and we sincerely hope that realistic proposals will be made next week by Diageo to help end this damaging crisis."
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
06 Nov
2003
CL distillers chief quits
THE chief executive of East Kilbride-based distillers CL World Brands has unexpectedly quit following an announcement that the chairman of its Trinidadian parent firm wanted to be more hands-on in the day-to-day running of the business.
Ian Bankier’s departure will raise questions over the future base of the company, formed last year.
Arnaud de Trabuc, executive director of strategic affairs for CL World Brands, insisted the company would continue to be headquartered out of East Kilbride.
CL World Brands distills the Bunnahabhain and Black Bottle whisky brands and was formed last year through the acquisition of the Burn Stewart distillery by Trinidad and Tobago conglomerate CL Financial.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
05 Nov
2003
Edrington moves to reshuffle board
IAN Curle, the chief executive-in-waiting of the Edrington Group, the maker of the Famous Grouse and The Macallan whiskies, moved yesterday to strengthen his board with the appointment of two new executive directors and a restructuring of the business.
Graham Hutcheon, previously distillation director, based at The Macallan Distillery on Speyside, succeeds Curle as group operations director, while Bill Farrar, who masterminded The Famous Grouse’s quirky TV adverts, is promoted to group sales and marketing director.
Barrie Jackson, a main board director for the last nine years, is promoted from sales and marketing director to a new role as group strategy director and will concentrate on directing the group’s future strategy.
Curle, 42, who was appointed deputy chief executive in May, succeeds Ian Good as chief executive next April to become the youngest chief executive in Edrington’s 150-year history.
Curle said he hoped the moves would strengthen the business, which has doubled in size in the last four years, and will put it in good shape for the tough challenges that lie ahead in the international marketplace.
Earlier this year, Edrington sold its Bunnahabhain and Glengoyne distilleries to Burn Stewart Distillers and Ian Macleod respectively, in deals analysts said were worth more than £20 million.
The move was part of a strategic change in the company to focus on its four main brands, The Famous Grouse, The Macallan, Highland Park and Cutty Sark.
In July the firm reported a 24.6 per cent increase in pre-tax profits to a record £61.7m while turnover rose 14.9 per cent to £230.7m.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
02 Nov
2003
Scotch on the rocks over Diageo
THE Scotch Whisky Association has been thrown into chaos over an unprecedented split between Diageo, Scotland’s largest whisky producer, and the rest of the industry.
Members of the SWA, the industry’s trade body, will put intense pressure on Diageo to reconsider its decision to axe its Cardhu single malt brand when its governing council meets next month...
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Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
30 Oct
2003
Allied Domecq denies SWA pull-out threat
ALLIED Domecq denied last night that it was on the verge of quitting the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) in protest against the inaction over Diageo’s decision to turn its Cardhu single malt Scotch whisky into a vatted malt. A spokesman for Allied said there was "no truth in the rumour whatsoever", but added that Allied are "extremely concerned about this issue and the reputation of single malt".
The row erupted after it emerged that Diageo has substituted the contents of its 12-year-old Cardhu single malt, taken from one source, with a vatted malt, blended from a number of Speyside distilleries. It is a move that many believe will damage the integrity and authenticity of every category of whisky produced in Scotland. A spokesman for the SWA said it was discussing the change with Diageo.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
29 Oct
2003
Festival aims to boost autumn tourism levels
ABOUT 140 events are planned in the ten-day Borders Banquet festival, including cookery demonstrations, murder mystery dinners, wine and whisky tastings and art evenings.
Funded by Scottish Enterprise Borders, it is designed to boost tourism at a traditionally quiet time of the year, said Alan Elliot, tourism business manager at SEB.
Last year it brought in an estimated £150,000, up 29 per cent on the event’s inaugural year.
Elliot said: "Official figures show that 25 per cent of all tourism spend is on food and drink.
Last year we saw a large increase both in average food and drink sales and in the number of bed nights sold as people use the event as a reason to come to the region for a short break."
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
29 Oct
2003
Whisky firm falls into red
MORRISON Bowmore, the whisky distiller, has fallen into the red because of costs associated with a distribution venture in Uruguay.
The Sociedad Anonima joint venture with the Uruguayan government cost Bowmore £700,000 in 2002, and the company has now exited the business.
The venture, along with a move away from sales of cheaper bulk blended whisky, saw Bowmore post a loss of £1.1 million for the year, compared with a profit of £948,000 in 2001.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
28 Oct
2003
Bottling plant is pretty dram fast
SCOTLAND’S fastest whisky bottling plant, capable of producing 600 bottles every minute, has been officially opened by the Edrington Group.
The maker of brands such as Famous Grouse and the Macallan has invested £3 million in the high-speed bottling plant at its Glasgow premises.
The construction of the new plant on Great Western Road saved 50 jobs at the 150-year-old company and is aimed at ensuring the £800m Scottish industry continues to grow.
First Minister Jack McConnell, who officially opened the plant, said: "Scotland’s whisky industry is one of the most important elements of our economy, and its global reputation is stronger than ever.
"Its success plays a strong part in attracting visitors to Scotland and one in 50 Scottish jobs depend on this most famous of industries."
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
26 Oct
2003
William Grant in good spirits as company set to grow
FAMILY-owned distiller William Grant is looking to acquire premium spirit brands after posting a 31% rise in pre-tax profits.
The Glenfiddich distiller wants to boost its portfolio, which ranges from Glenfiddich malt whisky to OVD rum.
A spokesman said: "We are looking for acquisition opportunities. We are a premium spirits business and it makes sense to continue to do that."
He refused to identify which brands were under consideration, but the company’s product range is underweight in brandy.
Grant’s, which has offices in Bellshill, London and Dufftown in Moray, has considerable firepower at its disposal.
At the end of last year the company held £25.9m in cash, up £8m on the previous year.
That increase came despite an £11.2m spending spree which brought Gibson’s Finest Canadian whisky, Polstar vodka and three rum brands into the group. Last year’s acquisitions, along with rising sales of William Grant’s blended whisky, contributed to a 10% rise in turnover to £323m in 2002. Pre-tax profits increased by 31% to £60.8m.
The spokesman said sales of the blend had benefited from customer loyalty and a strong marketing campaign.
Grant’s benefited from its stake in the Famous Grouse and Macallan whiskies, which it shares with rival distiller Edrington.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
26 Oct
2003
Whisky giant's 'threat' to pure single malts
NO-ONE can accuse Peter Smith of lacking fighting spirit. "Everyone talks about the whisky industry being fuddy-duddy and not going anywhere, but we as a company are not like that. We have made changes that we think will benefit everyone in the end, and if other people don’t like it, tough. What’s important is that our customers do...
Click here for full story
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
23 Oct
2003
Double Award for Bruichladdich in the USA
In a unique double, Bruichladdich has been awarded the title of Distillery of the Year for the second time in three years and Import Malt of the Year for their Vintage 1970 by Malt Advocate, the leading spirits magazine in the USA. The award was announced on Tuesday 21 October at WhiskyFest in New York.
Mark Reynier, Managing Director was delighted with the news, ‘It’s extremely gratifying to be recognised for our innovative approach to making whisky as natural and authentic as possible and validates the major decision we made this year to bottle Bruichladdich at the Distillery.’
Andrew Gray, Sales Director, agreed, saying ‘I’m sure that the quality, depth and breadth of range we have produced in such a short time contributed to the decision to make us Distillery of the Year. It’s amazing to have won this very prestigious title twice, particularly since we’ve only been in operation since 2001.’
Jim McEwan, Master Distiller, who received the awards, commented ‘Winning the title Malt of the Year is a testament to the skills of the guys who made the whisky and the ones who looked after it whilst it was maturing. I had the easy job. I found it, treated it gently - with respect - and let it speak for itself.’
The award for the 1970 confirmed the five star rating already given to this exceptional whisky by US Spirits writer Paul Pacult, who described it as ‘supremely sophisticated and integrated… a complete malt whisky experience’ .
Articles Courtesy of Bruichladdich
bruichladdich
23 Oct
2003
Diageo in good spirits
DIAGEO, the world’s biggest wines and spirits company, has told investors it is well positioned to achieve a "superior" performance following last year’s drop in profits.
Updating shareholders at its annual meeting, chief executive Paul Walsh said the company had demonstrated its ability to generate growth even in challenging times as the global economy struggles to recover from a major slump.
He said some markets were beginning to show signs of improvement, particularly in the United States, which is now Diageo’s most important market.
The group’s major brands include Johnnie Walker Black Label whisky, Baileys cream liqueur, Smirnoff vodka and Guinness.
Mr Walsh said: "Continued share gains, even in difficult markets such as those in Latin America, provide further evidence that Diageo is well positioned to achieve superior performance.
"Therefore, while recognising that we are only three months into the current financial year, we have not seen any trends emerging which would lead us to change our view of Diageo’s future prospects."
Earlier this week, rival Allied Domecq - the world’s second-largest drinks company - reported a three per cent rise in annual profits and said the new financial year had started well, despite difficult market conditions in Europe.
The owner of Ballantine’s whisky, Beefeater gin, Maker’s Mark bourbon and Dunkin’ Donuts posted a pre-tax profit of £495 million for the 12 months to the end of August, up from £480m for the previous year, on turnover two per cent higher at £3.4 billion. But Diageo’s annual results, announced last month, showed a four per cent slide in underlying operating profits to £2bn in the year to the end of June.
While the results were in line with market expectations, the group said it took a £1.5bn hit from the disposal of the Burger King fast food chain in December 2002, which it sold to focus on its spirits division.
Burger King was sold to a group of venture capitalists - led by Texas Pacific and including Bain Capital and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners - for £947m after seeing a previous £1.5bn deal with the same consortium fall through.
Annual turnover at Diageo, which employs 3000 north of the Border under the leadership of Scotland director Allan Burns, rose three per cent last year to just under £9bn.
Analysts believe the company - formed from the merger of drinks group Guinness and food and spirits firm Grand Metropolitan in 1997 - is lining up a £1.3bn sale of its 21 per cent stake in General Mills, maker of Cheerios cereal and Yoplait yoghurt.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
22 Oct
2003
Allied sinks as results lose fizz
SHARES in Allied Domecq, the world’s second biggest drinks firm after Diageo, were the FTSE 100’s second biggest faller yesterday after flattish annual results and a bleak statement on trading in mainland Europe.
The market was taken aback that Allied’s volume growth in spirits and wines, excluding acquisitions, slowed to just 1 per cent in the year to end-August from 4 per cent at the half-year stage.
Philip Bowman, group chief executive, said: "The European economies are difficult. We don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel."
Nigel Davies, a drinks specialist at investment bank JP Morgan, said: "Growth in the second half has slowed considerably in turnover terms and I think people are concerned about what that says about future growth."
Analysts at Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein put their "add" investment recommendation on Allied under review. Shares in the group, which recently lost out in the bid battle for Peter Lehman Wines in Australia to Switzerland’s Hess Group, closed down 16.75p, or 4 per cent, at 384.5p.
Allied, which unveiled a 3 per cent rise in underlying pre-tax profits to £495 million, said that important mainland European markets for the company, such as Germany, France and Italy, were still suffering from severe trading conditions.
Allied’s best-known brands include Ballantine’s whisky and Beefeater gin. Bottom-line pre-tax profits for the group, after exceptionals, fell 15 per cent to £483m (£571m last time).
Bowman, declaring an 8 per cent increase in the annual dividend to 14p, said a strong performance in the US - where profits rose 31 per cent - helped the company ride out the tough conditions in the eurozone.
Trading profits in the spirits and wine division as a whole rose 4 per cent to £522m, helped by Allied’s recent string of acquisitions.
During the period, Sauza tequila became the world’s fastest-growing premium spirits brand, with volumes up a hefty 28 per cent.
Allied’s burgeoning wine business grew volumes by 18 per cent, mainly due to the acquisition of Bodegas y Bodegas in December 2001 and Mumm Cuvee Napa.
Trading profit in Europe dropped 21 per cent to £114m, and 33 per cent before acquisitions were taken into account.
And there was a sharp cut of almost one-third in advertising spending in the Asia Pacific region as a result of the SARS epidemic last spring.
Meanwhile, profits at Allied’s quick service restaurants Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin Robbins climbed 8 per cent.
There has been speculation that Allied will eventually pursue a merger with another major spirits player to try and make up some headway on Diageo, with Pernod and Bacardi of France and Brown-Forman of the US said to be the desired targets.
But Bowman said that Allied Domecq was not talking to anybody currently.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
21 Oct
2003
Sweden faces EU fines if it fails to cut tax on Scotch whisky imports
PRESSURE is building on Sweden to cuts its tax on Scotch whisky after being warned by the European Union that its regulations on importing alcohol violate market rules.
Under Swedish law, those wanting to import alcohol for personal use have to apply to the country’s strict monopoly, Systembolage, to act as a selling intermediary. The European Commission argues that Sweden is depriving companies and individuals their rights under EU law, saying companies have a right to sell products throughout the 15-nation bloc unhindered.
The criticism came just weeks after Denmark gave a major boost to the whisky industry by slashing its tax on Scotch, making it cheaper to buy a bottle in Copenhagen than it is in Edinburgh.
An EU spokesman, said of the Swedish process: "It’s complicated and it’s very expensive so it’s a major disincentive." If Sweden, which applies duty on whisky at twice the UK rate, does not apply European market rules, it faces being fined heavily by the EU high court.
The move was welcomed by the Scotch Whisky Association, which claimed that liberalising the market will increase pressure for excise tax to be bought down.
David Williamson, of the association, said: "We welcome the move because it is introducing a simple and less complicated system for consumers who want to buy alcohol from abroad."
Brussels has also ordered Sweden to abolish its current limits on the amount of duty free that may be brought in by individuals for personal consumption from 1 January, 2004.
Williamson said: "Individuals will be allowed to bring back ten litres of alcohol without incurring additional taxation. In light of this, Denmark has cut its duty by 45 per cent and Finland is proposing a 44 per cent cut. Sweden hasn’t announced its intentions yet, but obviously pressure is building for excise tax to be bought down."
Last year Sweden imported £25.1m worth of whisky, or 8.3 million bottles. About 13 per cent of that was malt whisky.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
21 Oct
2003
Domecq in good spirits
ALLIED Domecq, the world’s second-largest drinks company, today reported a three per cent rise in annual profits and said the new financial year had started well, despite difficult market conditions in Europe.
The owner of Ballantine’s whisky, Beefeater gin, Maker’s Mark bourbon and Dunkin’ Donuts posted a pre-tax profit of £495 million for the 12 months to the end of August, up from £480m for the previous year, on turnover two per cent higher at £3.4 billion.
Chief executive Philip Bowman said: "Early indications are that the 2004 financial year has started well and we are on track to meet current expectations."
Ballantine’s and Beefeater continued to grow market share in Spain.
Despite gains, both brands recorded declines in overall shipment volumes as a result of the change in buying by Spanish wholesalers.
Outside Spain, Ballantine’s volumes grew three per cent, while Tia Maria volumes soared 33 per cent in the UK.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
20 Oct
2003
Intrepid trio look to put fun back into whisky
THREE entrepreneurs are about to embark on a mission to dispel the stuffy pipe and slippers image of Scottish whisky in the hope of opening up the spirit to a whole new generation of drinkers.
The Easy Drinking Whisky Company (EDWC) is launching three whiskies - dubbed simply The Rich Spicy One, The Smokey Peaty One and The Smooth Sweeter One.
The founding directors will follow up the launch of their whiskies - branded under the label Jon, Mark and Robbo - with a tour of Scottish off-licences to better equate the public with what they believe should be whisky’s fun image.
David Robertson, a director of EDWC and former master distiller of The Macallan, said: "There has been a snobbery attached to whisky drinking that has given it an almost elitist image. Jon, Mark and Robbo is aimed at removing the barriers to whisky drinking and making it fun to drink when you want."
The idea for EDWC was hatched on a Scottish hillside last Christmas and came to life after the three - brothers Mark and Jon Geary and David Robertson - secured seed funding from the Edrington Group, the Scottish drinks company, to produce its three malt mixes.
The three men hope to convert existing whisky drinkers, who are tired of the spirit’s frumpy image, as well as tapping into the generation brought up on wine labels such as Fat Bastard.
Similar moves to revamp staid images of other spirits and beverages in the past have met with mixed success. Bicardi managed to make the appeal transition when it introduced its range of flavoured alcopops under the label Bicardi Breezer in the late 90s.
However, a similar attempt to revive the popularity of Seventies favourite Babycham met with less success.
Jon, Mark and Robbo’s three whiskies will be available exclusively from Oddbins at the end of the month.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
17 Oct
2003
442 to design £500,000 Tullibardine complex
EDINBURGH-based consultancy 442 has won the contract to design the £500,000 Tullibardine Distillery retail outlet, restaurant and visitor attraction in Perthshire.
The Leith design agency, which started life in November last year, will help to develop and launch an innovative new retail brand based around the traditional values of whisky. David Dunn, 442’s design director, said: "Our strong commercial focus and modern retail experience is what appealed to the client team."
The project at Tullibardine Distillery forms part of a 50,000 sqft multi-million pound retail development at Blackford, near Gleneagles in Perthshire.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
12 Oct
2003
Scots invited to help bring UK town to China
ITS citizens will enjoy a pint in a traditional pub and may send their children to a school run by Eton College. But while Thames Town will be British in name and character, it will be a long way from home.
Thames Town is one of nine ‘towns’ being built in European styles in the suburbs of Shanghai. Together they are known as Songjiang New City, a £300m project to house 500,000 people in one of the world’s biggest and fastest-growing cities.
Now companies from Scotland are being invited to take part in building Thames Town, which will replicate the character of a small British town, complete with its own hospital and church.
Joan Serafini, who was a civil servant in Scotland for 22 years and now runs her own events business, is organising a symposium in Edinburgh for companies to meet a delegation from the developer, Henghe Real Estate Company, on November 24.
A number of blue-chip companies are on Henghe’s target list, including Tesco, Sainsbury, the Savoy Hotel, Hamleys and Addenbrooke’s Hospital.
Scottish firms have also been targeted in the whisky, hospitality and engineering sectors.
"British businesses are seeing huge opportunities in China and this event will give Scottish firms a chance to find out more about the new town," said Serafini, who flies out to Shanghai this week for an update on the project.
Engineering firm WS Atkins has been sending teams out to Shanghai to develop the masterplan and help with the development and design of the buildings, streetscape and landscaping.
Serafini, who was assistant private secretary to former Scottish Secretary Ian Lang and subsequently private secretary to First Ministers Henry McLeish and Jack McConnell, was asked initially to send two pipers and a Highland dancer to an exhibition and marketing launch this month.
But those behind the project have now asked her Glasgow-based company, Equator Events Management, to take on a consultancy role to identify companies that might be interested in getting involved in the development and provision of a middle school, nursery, whisky exhibition and shop, steakhouse, Scottish souvenirs shop, pub, five-star hotel and gym.
The symposium will be held at the Sheraton Grand Hotel, Edinburgh, on November 24.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
11 Oct
2003
Regular raises glass to 72 years
A WAR veteran has been drinking in the same pub for the last 72 years, his landlord confirmed on his 90th birthday.
Tommy Spurr has popped in almost daily for two pints of bitter and two glasses of whisky at the White Cross Pub, Pudsey, West Yorkshire.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
07 Oct
2003
Jailed over moonshine whisky
A MAN was jailed for two years yesterday for producing moonshine whisky at an illegal distillery on remote farmland. David Cox pleaded guilty to evading £529,275 in excise duty.
He was arrested in January this year after Customs and Excise officers raided farm buildings near Bridgnorth in Shropshire and found six illegal stills. They also discovered 1,500 litres of distilled whisky - some bottled and crated under the name Highland Game - and 35,000 litres of fermenting liquor.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
07 Oct
2003
Duncan quits Glenvarigill for Drambuie
GLENVARIGILL, the Edinburgh luxury motor group bought out from liqueur company Drambuie in a £40 million deal, has lost its marketing director to its former owner.
Miles Duncan, who previously worked with whisky giant Whyte and Mackay, said he was attracted by the opportunity to grow and focus the Drambuie brand in its home market and the role’s commercial side in sales and marketing.
Duncan is the second director to leave Glenvarigill in weeks, after Gavin Manson, the former finance director, sold his 40 per cent stake to managing director Tim Bartlett for an undisclosed sum. Yesterday Bartlett said the two departures were unrelated. "
Martin has been with us for five years, he has made a significant contribution, and was looking for a fresh challenge," he said.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
05 Oct
2003
Whisky fans nip in for Fife distillery shares
A WHISKY company planning to build a new distillery in Fife has raised almost £500,000 from private investors.
The Ladybank Company of Distillers has sold out its first tranche of shares released to enthusiasts and investors in the UK and overseas.
It eventually hopes to raise about£1.5m to fund the creation of the distillery on the outskirts of Ladybank village. Work is expected to start in the new year, with first production of its single malt pencilled in for before the end of 2004.
About 200 UK-based investors have each paid £1,850 for membership of the club, which will entitle them to the equivalent of 12 bottles a year from each vintage during the first 10 years of production.
The club has now released a second tranche of memberships available to UK investors at £2,500. James Thomson, one of the founding directors of the project, said Ladybank had now passed a major hurdle. "When we began this we thought the hardest part would be getting up to the 150-200 member level, but that once we had achieved that we would have the momentum we needed."
The company’s marketing efforts have included exhibiting at an alternative investment show in London last month. "We see this as a lifestyle investment in the same way as someone might invest in classic cars or art," Thomson said. "It gives the investor a great deal more than a pure cash investment."
He said efforts were now being concentrated on increasing the numbers of overseas investors. "We could very easily complete the membership in Scotland and the rest of the UK. We do want more UK investors, but part of the ethos of the project is the ‘pilgrimage’ aspect of people coming from abroad to see this return to the true heritage of scotch whisky."
The club has about 50 overseas members, mainly among expat communities. It is aiming for a total of between 700 and 800 investors with a maximum limit of 1,250.
The distillery, which will have the smallest production of any in Scotland, markets itself as being a return to the origins of distilling - carried out by farmers to convert surplus crops into spirits.
It will also feature a whisky school running courses on production and tasting.
The malting vessels to be used by the distillery are being built by fabricators McMillan of Prestonpans, and are believed to be the first farm-scale vessels for distilling built in Scotland for at least a century.
The company is the second new Scots whisky venture to attract money from private investors this year.
Blackwood Distillers, which is planning to build a new distillery on Shetland, staged a share issue and has been awarded a Highlands and Islands Enterprise grant to help fund the project.
The planned distillery could produce 40,000 cases annually of premium single malt, in peated and unpeated versions, and a variety of wood finishes.
As a return on investment is not expected in the short term, the company intends to provide a whisky dividend to investors who participate in its share offer at the rate of one bottle per annum per 500 offer shares subscribed.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
05 Oct
2003
Are you inspired to vote?
For the sixth year Scotland on Sunday has joined forces with Glenfiddich, the world’s premier single malt Scotch whisky, to give you the chance to vote in the Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Awards®. This unique awards scheme recognises the individuals who inspire our nation, leading the way in Scottish culture from food, music and screen to art, business, writing and sport.
Last year readers cast their votes by the thousand. This year, there is even more reason to have your say, since, for the first time, you will be able to enjoy the actual awards ceremony when the event is broadcast by Scottish and Grampian Television on Saint Andrew’s night.
Last week we profiled the contenders in the worlds of sport and food. This week it’s business and art, to be followed over the next couple of weeks by nominees in music, screen and writing. The nominees have been suggested by our judging panel but it’s up to you to decide who should win.
In the final week, you can vote for the Top Scot Award, an open category where you can choose the Scot from any walk of life whom you believe has made the greatest impact in furthering Scotland’s reputation at home and abroad this year.
Judges The judging panel for the Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Awards includes: John McGurk (editorial director, Scotsman Publications), John McLellan (editor, Scotland on Sunday), Iain Martin (editor, The Scotsman), Sally Gordon (Glenfiddich), Sandy Ross (Scottish Television) and a number of specialist correspondents.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
03 Oct
2003
Praise poured on decanter expert
A WORLD expert on rare whisky decanters has been honoured in the Capital.
Independent wine merchant Brian Wilding was recognised by Bells whisky to mark ten years in the specialist field.
Mr Wilding acquired several of the ceramic decanters about ten years ago and only learned about widespread interest in them after trying to sell them through a classified advert.
He launched the Bells Decanter Register, a private forum which has been involved in buying and selling more than 5000 decanters.
Mr Wilding was honoured with a certificate and bottle of whisky at a ceremony at drinks giant Diageo’s Edinburgh Park offices.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
02 Oct
2003
Whisky now cheaper in Denmark than Scotland
DENMARK has given a major boost to the whisky industry by almost halving its duty on Scotch, making it cheaper to buy a bottle in Copenhagen than it is in Edinburgh.
The Danes, who import £9.3 million worth of Scotch a year, have cut the tax by 35 Kroner (£3.25) a bottle in an attempt to curb the volume of lost tax revenue from cross-border shopping with Germany.
Tax on a bottle of Scotch in Denmark is now 5.84 (£4.11) per bottle, compared with £5.48 in the UK.
Welcoming the move, Hugh Morison, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, said: "Denmark has recognised that high taxes only lead to a disorderly spirits market, with consumers crossing the border to Germany looking for a fairer deal resulting in the government losing valuable tax revenue."
That situation could be exacerbated next January when Denmark will be required by the EU to remove its import restrictions for personal consumption.
Morison added: "With Norway reducing its spirits tax in each of the last two years and the Finnish parliament considering a proposal to cut the duty on Scotch by 44 per cent next year, Denmark’s tax cut is part of a welcome trend across Scandinavia towards the fairer taxation of spirit drinks."
Yesterday, analysts predicted the Danish move might give rise to a domino effect. One source said: "By cutting tax in Denmark the pressure now turns to Sweden. There is a bridge between Sweden and Denmark and early rumours circulating are the Swedes will be forced to cut their duty on whisky by 50 per cent."
If Sweden and Finland do cut their duty by early next year we could have a situation where the UK has the second- highest whisky duty in Europe behind Ireland.
Leonard Russell, the managing director of Glengoyne distillery, which supplies 5,000 cases of whisky a year to Denmark, welcomed the news and said the move should help boost sales.
He said: "Gordon Brown should take note that tax on a bottle of whisky in Denmark is now cheaper than the UK."
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
28 Sep
2003

Pick a winner
GLENFIDDICH'S SPIRIT OF SCOTLAND AWARDS
For the sixth year Scotland on Sunday has joined forces with Glenfiddich, the world’s premier single malt Scotch whisky, to give you the chance to vote in the Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Awards®. This unique awards scheme recognises the individuals who inspire our nation, leading the way in Scottish culture from food, music and screen to art, business, writing and sport.
Last year readers cast their votes by the thousand. This year, there is even more reason to have your say, since, for the first time, you will be able to enjoy the actual awards ceremony when the event is broadcast by Scottish and Grampian Television on Saint Andrew’s night.
Over the next four weeks, Spectrum will profile four individuals in each of the following categories: Business, Art, Food, Sport, Music, Screen and Writing. The nominees have been suggested by our judging panel but it’s over to you to decide who should win.
In the final week, you can vote for the Top Scot Award, an open category where you can choose the Scot from any walk of life whom you believe has made the greatest impact in furthering Scotland’s reputation at home and abroad this year.
Judges The judging panel for the Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Awards includes: John McGurk (Scotsman Publications), John McLellan (Scotland on Sunday), Iain Martin (Scotsman), Sally Gordon (Glenfiddich), Sandy Ross (Scottish Television) and a number of specialist correspondents.
How to vote To vote in the Awards simply call the hotline telephone number listed next to the nominee of your choice, or vote on line at www.glenfiddich.com/spirit
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman

scotsman.com
27 Sep
2003
Whisky of Mass Destruction - how the US spied on a tiny island distillery
IN THE wavering image of a webcam, the figures moved with the sinister intent of those whose mission is mayhem. Thank heavens "Ursula" was watching ...
If the slightest possibility exists that Bruichladdich distillery on Islay is a threat to world peace, we need to know...
Click here for full story
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
25 Sep
2003
Pernod rise lifts spirits
THE world’s third-biggest spirits group, Pernod Ricard, today reported a better-than-predicted rise in first-half profits, helped by a revival of two brands, and predicted earnings growth of about 15 per cent this year.
The Paris-based group, whose drinks cabinet includes vodkas, rums, whiskies, gins and aperitifs, said first-half profits rose to £111.6 million, from £106.8m a year ago, helped by an improvement at its Chivas Regal scotch whisky and Martell cognac brands.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
25 Sep
2003
A dram good job to boost tourism
THE Scotch whisky industry claims to have taken a significant step in realising its tourism potential with the appointment yesterday of Chris Conway as the first Scotch Whisky tourism development manager.
Conway, a former marketing manager with Whyte & Mackay, will initially work with hotels, restaurants and distillery visitor centres to develop new ways of using whisky as a means of attracting tourists to scotland.
Plans currently under consideration include setting up "whisky embassies" throughout Scotland where tourists can learn more about their favourite drink and encouraging restaurants to develop more whisky-based dishes.
The £100,000 project - unveiled by the deputy First Minister and enterprise minister, Jim Wallace, and Ian Good, chairman of the Scotch Whisky Association - is being led by the Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre.
Funding is coming from Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, VisitScotland and the Scotch Whisky Association.
Good said: "More than a million people visit 40 distillery visitor centres throughout Scotland every year.
"The industry is a great ambassador for Scotland. Chris with his depth of experience can build on this."
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
25 Sep
2003
220 jobs set to go as Leith whisky bottling plant is axed
A LEITH whisky factory is to close with the loss of up to 220 jobs.
Whyte and Mackay, one of Scotland’s biggest distillers, revealed yesterday its Leith bottling plant would close as part of major "restructuring" following a review in July of operations at the firm.
The Salamander Place plant is one of two bottling factories which bosses want to merge into one, new high-speed plant.
The 220-strong workforce is now being consulted to establish who will relocate from Leith to a new £20 million state-of-the-art bottling plant in Grangemouth.
Local politicians have questioned the company’s motives for closing the factory and say it has fallen victim to the Capital’s property boom. Mark Lazarowicz, Labour MP for Edinburgh North and Leith, said:
"I’m extremely angry at the company’s decision to close the Leith plant. They will be hoping that they can sell their Leith site for housing development, but I will vigorously oppose any such proposal because this part of Leith has been identified as an area for employment rather than housing.
"I am calling on the council to stop that from happening."
The existing plant in Grangemouth, which has 140 staff, will eventually accommodate 220 workers when it is complete in two years’ time. At least 140 people, expected to be from Leith, will be made redundant.
Trade union leaders said today that the company had made a mockery of consultation procedures and that they will oppose any compulsory redundancies.
Whyte and Mackay said the changes were part of a £70m revamp. Vivian Imerman, chief executive and chairman at Whyte and Mackay Ltd, said long-term sustainability and the "relative land values" of the sites had swayed their decision.
She said:
"We will do everything in our power to help find new employment opportunities for those who regrettably are affected."
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
24 Sep
2003
Whisky tots up a success
SCOTCH Whisky has proved its resilience in the face of severe economic difficulties with the value of exports rising a credible 2.3 per cent in the first six months of the year...
Click here for full story
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
23 Sep
2003
Export if Scotch up in spite of Sars virus
SCOTCH whisky is continuing to grow in the world export market, despite international economic troubles exacerbated by the Sars virus, according to new industry figures released today.
Figures show the value of Scotch whisky exports rose to £961 million in the first six months of 2003, an increase of 2.3 per cent compared with the same period last year.
According to the statistics, released today by the Scotch Whisky Association, the global interest in bottled malts is continuing, with malt whisky recording double-digit growth.
There was an 18 per cent leap in the value of malt exports to £121m, on the back of a 22 per cent rise in shipment volumes of malt whisky to more than 22 million bottles.
Sales of blended whisky bottled in Scotland - which make up 80 per cent of the total export value - also performed well, rising 1.5 per cent to £740m.
Ian Good, chairman of the Scotch Whisky Association, said: "An increase in the value of Scotch exports during the first half of 2003 is very encouraging at what was a difficult time for the world economy due to international unrest and the Sars outbreak."
He added: "We are delighted the popularity of malts continues to increase around the world.
"The leap in the value and volume of malt exports is testament to a growing awareness among consumers of its different styles and characteristics.
"Just as welcome is the news that blended whisky values are also up in 2003."
Despite the Sars outbreak, the value of exports to key Asian markets such as South Korea and Taiwan grew by 4.6 per cent and 23 per cent respectively, and there are signs that the Chinese market is beginning to develop a taste for Scotch.
The value of Scotch exports to China jumped 160 per cent in the first half of the year, representing an increase of around £2m.
But in Japan, exports tumbled 37.4 per cent in value to £36.9m as the volume of Scotch imported by the country collapsed by 51.4 per cent to 11.6 million bottles in the wake of the Sars virus.
Closer to home, exports to the European Union rose £32m to £363m, an increase of 9.6 per cent over the first six months of 2002.
Mr Good said: "There was also a welcome sign of the possibilities that await distillers when the EU expands eastwards next year, with sales to eastern European countries increasing both by value, 39 per cent, and volume, 54 per cent."
In the UK, growth of Scotch whisky was described as "steady", with volumes rising by 2.5 per cent, or 1.1 million bottles over the first half of 2002 to reach 47 million bottles.
Sales to the industry’s most valuable market, the United States, increased by six per cent in volume terms to 54.5 million bottles, and by one per cent in value terms to £139.3m.
In France, the largest market in terms of volume, the value of exports rose by 2.4 per cent to £103.4m, but volumes slumped by 10.6 per cent to 64.9 million bottles.
The value of exports to Spain soared by 42.6 per cent to £120.7m, with volumes growing by 22.5 per cent to 48.5 million bottles.
In 2002, some £2.28bn worth of Scotch whisky was exported around the world, making the industry one of the UK’s top five manufactured export earners.
Mr Good is also chairman and chief executive of distiller Edrington, which has unveiled plans for a £1.2m global marketing drive in a bid to establish its flagship single malt, The Macallan, as "the world’s most precious whisky".
The promotion begins next month in the US before being rolled out internationally.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
19 Sep
2003
African 'Scotch' to be destroyed
THOUSANDS of litres of fake Scotch whisky made in South Africa are to be destroyed following a successful application yesterday to the Cape Town High Court by the Scotch Whisky Association.
A rogue South African company has been selling "Scotch" - "produced in Scotland and bottled in South Africa" to local connoisseurs for years under such labels as the Original Scotsman, Glen Dowan, Prince Regent, Old Spencer and Glenshire.
The sad fact is, Judge Ashley Binns-Ward said, that these Scotch aficionados have really been drinking South African grape and cane spirit with caramel added.
Judge Binns-Ward ordered the destruction of an initial 700 cases of the fake Scotch produced by a Pretoria firm called Purple Rains. The "whisky" had already been seized.
The decision followed an application to the court by the Edinburgh-based Scotch Whisky Association and Guinness United Distillers.
It is the first successful crackdown against fake whisky manufacturers who dilute sales of genuine Scotch whisky, which were worth £51 million to Scotland in 2002.
Judge Binns-Ward also banned Purple Rains from future use of labels depicting kilted Scots, bagpipes and all use of the words Glen, Scotch, Scotland and Scotsman.
David Williamson, the public affairs manager of the Scotch Whisky Association, said: "We welcome this court decision. One of our fundamental priorities is to protect the reputation of Scotch whisky against unfair competition around the globe."
Mr Williamson said 90 per cent of Scotch production was exported in trade worth £2 billion a year. "South Africa is very important to us, our 11th-biggest export market, with 22 million cases heading there each year," he said.
Scotch whisky received more legal protection abroad this week thanks to a deal between the European Union and Canada. Scotch whisky will be registered as a protected "geographical indication" in Canada. That will prevent rogue traders from suggesting Canadian-style whiskey is "Scotch whisky". In 2002 Scotch whisky exports to Canada were worth £34 million.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
13 Sep
2003
Roll out the barrels of fun
As we drive up the long, bumpy road to the house which skirts the beach at Cadboll, we can see something moving out at sea. We stop and watch as a dark shape tosses and sprays below us. "It’s a dolphin!" cry the children. Our first sighting of a bottle-nosed dolphin in the Moray Firth.
Lined with faded old whisky barrels, the road eventually leads to Glenmorangie House. The children, who half-expect to be staying inside a "fuming whisky factory", leap out of the car in excitement at the sight of a giant chess set and mini-putting green on the lawn. We have arrived late, after taking several attempts on single-track roads off the A9 to find this remote spot, and we are nowhere near the distillery...
Click here for full story
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
13 Sep
2003
Tickle your taste buds
Deep-fried Mars bars. It’s time that cliché about the limits of Scottish culinary imagination was banished for good. That’s the thinking behind a succession of festivals celebrating Scottish food and drink this autumn. Expect freshly caught seafood, home-reared lamb, pork, beef and venison, and an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables on the menu as local producers aim to catch the imaginations of food fanciers at home and abroad.
Three festivals in the next month celebrate a fine dining scene in this country that rivals the best of European cuisines.
At the Skye and Lochalsh festival, running from Thursday until Sunday, the emphasis - inevitably - will be on seafood, with planned events including sample tastings, walks around the seafood factory at Lochalsh and special menus at the famed Three Chimneys Restaurant on the shores of Loch Dunvegan in Skye.
Next on the agenda is the Taste of Mull and Iona Festival, from 21 to 27 September, a now-annual event in the Hebridean Isles. Again, locally caught salmon, mussels, oysters and langoustines will feature, but there will be a chance to sample the high quality of naturally reared lamb, pork, venison and beef too.
Additional events include cruises operating from Tobermory Bay which offer the chance to sample Mull shortbread and whisky while watching out for any passing porpoises and seals.
The Highland Food and Drink Festival runs from 2-5 October.
Events planned include a garlic night at Tulloch Castle, featuring the range of the local Really Garlicky Company, and a Whisky Galore evening, with the chance of some tasting while listening to traditional entertainment.
Celebrity chef Ainsley Harriot will conduct a cooking demonstration and there’ll be the chance for local young chefs to show off their skills.
One of the first official food events in Scotland was the International Festival of Food and Drink in St Andrews, held each year to coincide with St Andrew’s Day celebrations in the town. Started in the mid-1980s by local hoteliers who were keen to boost tourism at a traditionally quiet time of year, it has become a key celebration of Scots produce and cuisine. But you’ll have to wait until the end of November to sample the fare at that one.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
13 Sep
2003
Distillery visits
Professor John Lennon ("Selling Scotland", 9 September) draws the wrong conclusions from the falling numbers of visitors to distilleries. Numbers have declined over the past decade as the distillers recognise that they are not in the tourism business but the brand promotion business.
Accordingly, they have directed their efforts to value not volume, encouraging enthusiasts. Headline numbers have fallen, but shop sales and brand awareness have grown as visitors with the purchasing power to buy and consume luxury Scotch whisky brands are welcomed.
The real innovators in the category, such as Dewar’s World of Whisky in Aberfeldy, use their centres primarily for trade education and entertainment, bringing affluent and influential visitors from around the world to the heartland of their brand.
And here is the challenge for Scotland: how to attract the affluent, discerning few. VisitScotland’s strategy of targeting clear categories deserves time, and a budget equal to the task.
IAN BUXTON
The Edinburgh Consultancy
East London Street
Edinburgh.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
12 Sep
2003
'Elitist' comments do our cuisine a grave disservice
Your headline, "Most visitors feel ripped off" (10 September), is spot on when it comes to the price of a bottle of whisky in Scotland. I know, from answering incredulous visitors from Thailand, the United States and the European Union, that all feel surprised, and in some cases cheated, at the cost of a bottle of Scotch here.
As Philip Riddle, the chief executive of VisitScotland, notes, "it’s cheaper in Calais". No wonder, when the excise duty on a bottle of whisky in Scotland is £5.48, yet only about £3 in France.
Bizarrely, Scotland is one of the most expensive countries anywhere in the world to buy Scotch, which is why visitors should seek out bottles they cannot find at home.
Perhaps it is time for some joined-up thinking, with the government cutting the duty to boost trade and reduce the charge of rip-off Scotland.
CAMPBELL EVANS
Scotch Whisky Association
Atholl Crescent
Edinburgh.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
10 Sep
2003
Where to go if the spirit moves you
I’LL have a 17.26 and . . . a kedgeree, please," says the polite gentleman with the neatly-trimmed white beard.
It’s not the usual type of order you’d expect to hear in an Edinburgh bar, but then No 87 Giles Street isn’t your typical boozer. This is the home of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, the members-only club for all lovers of the water of life...
Click here for full story
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
06 Sep
2003
It's a dram fine place
SHOPPERS in Edinburgh are Britain’s biggest connoisseurs of whisky, according to a survey by supermarket Somerfield.
Customers at five Somerfield stores in and around the Capital are buying more of the supermarket’s top lines of whisky than anywhere else in the country.
A spokesman said: "People in Edinburgh clearly have great taste buds."
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
06 Sep
2003
Chinese queuing up to buy the Rolls-Royce of expensive whiskies
PLANS are being drawn up to put the world’s largest, most expensive collection of Scotch whisky on sale to the rich and famous - in China.
More than 10,000 bottles from "The Macallan Fine and Rare" collection, valued at £14.5 million, are to go on the market as the largest range of vintage single malt whiskies ever released for sale, with ages of production spanning the years from 1926 to 1972.
Each complete set from the range costs about £140,000 and the Chinese showcase event, planned for Shanghai in November, forms part of a worldwide launch, which also features London, New York and other Far East countries.
The single most expensive bottle is priced at £20,000, with The Macallan 1956 coming in at £10,000. Miniatures are on sale at £61 each.
The Chinese interest comes after The Macallan became the first whisky company to open a sales office in Shanghai, serving markets from South Korea to Australia.
Over the last five years there has been a 48 per cent rise in sales of Scotch whisky in China, according to figures compiled by the Scotch Whisky Association. Martin Reimann, the Asia Pacific director with parent company Edrington, said a growing number of wealthy Chinese who are fashion and status conscious regard The Macallan as an accessory to show off at home.
"It’s commonly referred to as the Rolls-Royce of malts and we believe that those qualities will win the hearts of Chinese whisky lovers. We have received strong interest from high ranking Communist Party officials, top-end retailers, hoteliers, restaurateurs and journalists."
The "Fine and Rare" collection would normally appeal to wealthy American, European or Japanese whisky connoisseurs or canny investors looking for an alternative investment strategy.
A couple of collections have already been pre-sold to two customers, an Italian and an American - who asked if he could pay in installments because his wife would notice one chunky bill for over £140,000 on his credit card statements.
The Chinese are well aware of the potential investment value of whisky - The Macallan has commanded 19 out of the 23 highest prices at recent whisky auctions. It is possible to make 16 per cent a year investment return from a bottle.
"We have often been asked why the extraordinary range of vintage Macallan has never been available for sale," said David Cox, director of fine and rare whiskies. "In response to that demand we are making available the greatest range of single malts ever seen."
Martin Green, whisky specialist with McTears Auctioneers in Glasgow, said: "The investment value of whisky has been proven time and time again, making it an ideal gift to purchase if someone is looking for something a little bit special."
When The Macallan team held the launch party for the Shanghai office, supplies of their product almost ran out. At another Chinese conference event, partly sponsored by The Macallan and attended by Tony Blair, many bottles of The Macallan 30-year-old (worth £300 each) were bought up by entrepreneurial delegates.
"The bottles were intended purely for display purposes - we were astounded and delighted when the delegates started snapping them up," said Reimann.
"And the buyers were all women. Obviously, they had done their research and realised that it is a great investment as well as being a superb dram."
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
03 Sep
2003
Mystery bidder misses out as bottle sells for £9,200
A MYSTERY Scottish celebrity lost out yesterday after a rare bottle of whisky more than tripled its estimated price when it was sold at auction as part of an effort to raise cash for a children’s charity.
The Islay single malt - which had been expected to be knocked down for about £3,000 - sold for £9,200 with the buyer’s premium - going to the Bowmore Distillery, which produced it.
The unnamed personality had contacted McTear’s auction house in Glasgow with a bid of £8,000.
Martin Green, the whisky consultant at McTear’s, said: "The price didn’t beat any world records, but it still exceeded expectations.
"A very famous person in Scottish life had made an initial bid in writing, and had a representative in the saleroom on the day, but it wasn’t to be his day."
Bidders from France, Japan, Italy and Holland all vied for the bottle. And the sale saw a fierce bidding war on the floor at McTear’s between the mystery man and representatives from Bowmore.
The money raised will go to the distiller’s chosen charity, the Children’s Hospice Association Scotland (CHAS), which is backed by the actor Ewan McGregor.
CHAS hopes to raise £10 million to open its second Scottish hospice, Robin House in Argyll and Bute, next year.
Bob Tomlinson, of CHAS, said: "It’s absolutely superb that Bowmore have generously made this donation. We’re over the moon."
The whisky came from the Queen’s cask, which was laid down at the distillery on the island after the sovereign visited in 1980.
All the bottles contained in it were given to Buckingham Palace, so the Queen could auction them off for her chosen Golden Jubilee charities.
But one bottle was kept back to allow Bowmore to sell it for the charity of its choice. Mr Green added: "It may not have raised as much money as they may have hoped, but nevertheless this is an utterly unique whisky.
"It is a youngish spirit and was only distilled in 1980, but we are delighted it sold for as much as it did."
Two other specially labelled 15-year-old Bowmores were also sold off for the charity, each raising £880.
A spokesman for Bowmore said: "We are very happy at the amount raised."
Among the 2,000 bottles of whisky sold yesterday were six which were salvaged from a 19th-century shipwreck off the coast of Stranraer.
The bottles, which were retrieved from the wreck of the cargo ship Firth of Cromarty, which sank in 1898, all fetched between £250 and £300.
Bowmore had hoped the sale of its single malt might beat the top price ever fetched for a bottle of whisky, which stands at almost £26,000.
A 62-year-old Dalmore, also a single malt, which was bottled in Alness, Ross-shire, fetched £25,877.50 at McTear’s in December last year.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
02 Sep
2003
Whisky club enjoys taste of success
IT BEGAN when a dozen friends clubbed together to buy a cask of fine malt whisky 20 years ago.
Now, with nearly 25,000 members worldwide, the Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) is to open a new club in the heart of the capital.
The society will retain its headquarters in 18th century Leith commercial buildings but will open a five-storey Georgian House in Queen Street complete with dining rooms, a library, bar and flats to stay in, next spring.
Richard Gordon, the managing director of the SMWS, said the reason for the society’s success was that tasting whisky was a sociable activity with the club run on an egalitarian basis.
"It is a very good Scottish ideal that people from all walks of life and ages can mix and that is how we run the club," he said.
"The only rules are that members have to be over 18, want to join and be happy to pay the subscription. Other than that we expect people to leave behind their titles and background when they cross the entrance to ensure a relaxed atmosphere. That is why the Leith rooms have flourished, but we have got to the stage when we sometimes have to turn members away because we have no room for them so we need to expand.
"There can be no more sociable activity than comparing notes over different whiskies and is often how strangers who come to the club will strike up conversation.
"For many people who live and work in Edinburgh it can be too far to travel down to Leith and our site on Queen Street will give members a high quality city-centre venue.
"It is a magnificent five storey Georgian house which was the headquarters for the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland and is being restored to its former glory."
The club bottles its own whiskies direct from individual casks from 113 distilleries across Scotland to give members the chance to buy bottles which come numbered but not named.
This is in recognition of a gentlemen’s agreement within the industry not to mention in print which distillery is which, as producers carefully foster their own house style which might be compromised by single casks which can be erratic.
Tasting and comparing notes on different malts, which tend to produce fewer than 300 bottles from each cask, has become such a global pursuit that the society now has associated branches in America, France, Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Japan and Austria.
Mr Gordon said: "Although no-one is excluded from joining the club, we do offer a high level of service, atmosphere and style which is what members who appreciate high quality in whisky demand.
"When the new building opens in Spring 2004 they will have the chance to enjoy the restaurant and members’ room as well as hire it out for functions and have the chance to stay there in the two top flats. The flats we rent out to members in Leith are always popular so we are happy to be able to offer this facility in 28 Queen Street. There are also stunning views across the Forth and we believe it will replicate the atmosphere of our present headquarters."
The SMWS offers a range of tastings and events as well as running a Whisky School which takes place regularly in Edinburgh and London to enable members to develop their whisky knowledge further.
The society costs £75 to join - complete with a bottle of malt.
Membership allows access to the club’s London room - kitted out in the style of a small, modern club and the headquarters at the Old Wine Vaults in Leith.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
27 Aug
2003
Distillery probe into black mould
A DISTILLERY in the Lothians is to launch a major investigation into a black mould which has been blamed on the vapours given off by maturing whisky.
Distilleries across the country have been plagued by complaints from residents of the mysterious mould appearing on their windows and walls.
Householders have blamed the vapours from the whisky warehouses - known as "the Angels’ share" - for the problem.
But the distillers have consistently denied the moulds have any link with their work - and hope the new investigation will prove it.
The investigation has been commissioned by the North British Distillery company, which wants to expand its whisky maturation operations in West Lothian by building four new warehouses in Addiewell.
The three-year study into the "black growth phenomenon" is due to start in October and is expected to cost tens of thousands of pounds.
The research comes after people living close to the West Lothian distillery, in the Muirhall area of Addie-well, complained a black mould was covering their walls, cars and windows. Similar complaints have been received by distilleries across Scotland. Ian Ford, company secretary at the North British Distillery, said: "We have never accepted the link which residents have claimed and we don’t believe a link will be established.
"We have worked with the residents, listened to their concerns and we are now going to carry out a study with wider companies in the industry."
The independent investigation is being carried out in collaboration with the National Environmental Research Council, Newcastle University and the Whisky Research Foundation.
Campbell Evans, spokesman for the Scotch Whisky Association, said he believed the investigation would prove the industry’s theory that the mould was a natural phenomenon in damp areas.
He said: "What has been done so far shows that these are common micro-organisms which are found across the country.
"You can find growth of these in farms, trees and other areas which have damp climates, so it’s not surprising that in a climate best suited to the slow maturation of whisky stocks that this stuff is around."
The Addiewell distillery recently spent thousands of pounds cleaning black growths from 11 houses in the Muirhall area, some of which are just 100 yards from its whisky bond.
Bernard Kane, chairman of the Muirhall Residents’ Association, said all the residents were looking for was a guarantee that the company would repeat the exercise every three years.
He said: "There is no doubt in my mind that the black growth is caused by the whisky bond. I have been to other whisky sites in the country where you can see the black growth on nearby houses.
"I don’t have much faith in this investigation because you can make a report say whatever you want it to. We just want a guarantee our houses will be maintained."
The North British Distillery plans to transfer its storage facilities out of Edinburgh to new, larger premises in West Lothian.
West Lothian Council demanded the company carry out a detailed study of the mould problem when it granted it outline planning permission for the new buildings.
Richard Hartland, the local authority’s development and building control manager, said that if the results of the investigation revealed that the black growth is directly associated with the whisky bond, the company would have to give a commitment to tackling the problem.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
26 Aug
2003
Shake-up at Burn Stewart
DISTILLER Burn Stewart has promoted finance director Steve Campbell to the new post of managing director. He will take up the position with immediate effect.
Mr Campbell will take over the day-to-day running of Burn Stewart from chief executive Ian Bankier, who has been given a broader role within the firm since it merged with Angostura bitters maker CL Financial earlier this year. CL boosted its whisky portfolio in April, paying rival distiller Edrington nearly £10m for the Bunnahabhain malt and Black Bottle blend.
"It is often said that a good finance director is very involved in the business. I like to think this is the case and I can complement the skills I have learnt in market distribution and international sales," Mr Campbell said.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
24 Aug
2003
Whisky distiller director nips off
THE exodus of senior management from whisky maker Whyte and Mackay continued last week, with the departure of director Robert Ellis. A spokesman for the company said: "I can confirm that Robert Ellis is leaving Whyte and Mackay as general manager, procurement. This was entirely his own decision and he is currently working out a notice period."
Chairman and chief executive Vivian Imerman has dispensed with the services of most of the directors since he took over the company.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
24 Aug
2003
Grouse prepares to spread its wings in India
FAMOUS Grouse manufacturer Highland Distillers is in talks with potential distributors in India, a market with massive potential which is steadily opening up to Scotch whisky.
It has held talks with Radico Kahitan in London and India, and has also been approached by Triumph Distillers & Vintners which last year bought out Diageo’s Indian whiskies.
Deepak Roy, chief executive of TDV, steered United Distillers, part of Diageo, into the country and headed its operations for eight years, managing Diageo brands such as Johnnie Walker and J&B.
But Famous Grouse is regarded as the fastest-growing imported Scotch whisky in the country, which has the potential to become one of the world’s largest markets for Scotch whisky. Roy is said to be keen to take up distribution of the brand.
Scotch currently accounts for less than 1% of the spirits market of 70 million to 80 million cases a year, which until April 2001 was closed to imported bottled spirits.
Following pressure from the World Trade Organisation, India eased tax tariffs, but they remain punitive, making Scotch unaffordable to most Indians. The last two Indian budgets have seen basic customs duty fall from 188% to 166%, which the Scotch Whisky Association sees as "steps in the right direction".
The industry acknowledges that growth will be slow, but the SWA sees India as a "top international priority".
Paul Ross, the director of Highland Distillers’ emerging markets, said that India is "intrinsic to the company’s long-term business outlook and success" and confirmed that it is talking to distributors.
Ross said: "In such a fast-changing environment it is imperative that Highland Distillers continues to reassess business opportunities. We have had tentative discussions with a number of Indian companies about forging possible trading links to strengthen our local presence. The process is at an early stage and any conclusion is still some distance away."
Highland, part of Edrington group, has appointed Paramjit Singh as general manager in India to replace Dinesh Jain, who left amid rumours that he disagreed with the company over its strategy. Highland said he left to pursue a new business interest and continues to help the company.
Ian Good, the chairman and chief executive of Edrington, said several distribution companies were being considered. He said: "We need to have markets in place at different stages and this is about sowing seeds for the long term."
Incoming chief executive Ian Curle said India was in the "interesting" basket but added that China was currently "hotter" and had significant opportunities for malt whiskies and deluxe brands.
The company is also making further inroads into South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan. The South Korean market for Scotch is growing at up to 20% a year.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
18 Aug
2003
Spirit of parliament
THE supplier of malt whisky to the Scottish Parliament’s gift shop has been appointed following blind taste tests by MSPs.
Politicians took part in the tasting after a selection process in which several companies were asked to tender.
Leading malt whisky specialist Gordon & MacPhail was chosen after the tests.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
11 Aug
2003
Blackwood forced to extend share offer
BLACKWOOD Distillers, Scotland’s newest whisky company, has extended its share offer after failing to raise the £1.5 million it wanted to help build a new distillery on Shetland.
Investors will now have until the end of this month to subscribe, by which time the firm hopes to have a decision on a grant from Highlands and Islands Enterprise to help fund the project.
Chief executive Caroline Whitfield, who did not want to reveal how much had been pledged by last month’s original closing date, admitted Blackwood had not had any firm interest from institutional investors but said it had seen strong demand from private individuals. She said she was in talks with three individuals - two from Scotland and one from England, about investing "significant sums" in the venture.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
11 Aug
2003
WestLB to sell Whyte and Mackay stake
VIVIAN Imerman, the 50 per cent stakeholder and chief executive of Whyte and Mackay, was last night facing the prospect of becoming the whisky giant’s sole investor, as West LB signalled it did not intend to hold on to its 40 per cent share.
German-based West LB, which gained its chunk of the whisky giant when it bankrolled its 2001 management buy-out from Jim Beams, has said it would sell off the investment "in the medium term" along with the rest of its principle finance unit.
Imerman, as chief shareholder, would be given pre-emptive rights, or first call, over West LB’s stake when it becomes available. If he chose to turn down the offer it would clear a pathway for another investor to move in - which the South African would be keen to avoid.
Whyte and Mackay said: "Vivian Imerman has no intention of selling the business. Should WestLB look to sell its shareholding he has expressed an interest in acquiring these shares, depending on the conditions attached."
West LB would not elaborate on when it may relinquish its stake, saying only that all the investments in Saunders’ unit were up for sale. But it is understood that the sale will not be immediately forthcoming. A review of the entire portfolio of interests could take more than 18 months to complete.
Whyte and Mackay, formerly known as Kyndal, poured water on suggestions that in ridding itself of its shareholding West LB would try to engineer a bidding war for the group. The distiller produced a letter it received last month from West LB’s Robin Saunders stating that the company was "not for sale" and that the bank would need Imerman’s "full agreement" to go ahead with its plans.
It said: "On 8 July we received a letter stating that ... while WestLB may choose to dispose of its principle finance unit, the business remains not for sale."
Imerman, the former chief executive of Del Monte, built up his stake in the business through an intensive financial restructuring that allowed employees to sell him shares at a 25 per cent premium to the MBO price.
When the transaction process is complete he will own a 60 per cent stake in the company.
The whisky distiller has been weighed down by debt since its buy-out in October 2001. Former chief executive Brian Megson left in February, paving the way for Imerman’s ascent and sparking the departure of five other directors.
West LB’s investment in Whyte and Mackay is flanked by stakes in Odeon cinemas, Pubmaster pubs and department store chain Bhs in the unit’s portfolio. Saunders, who may yet attempt to buy out the finance unit herself, and other executives control 10 per cent of West LB’s 40 per cent stake.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
08 Aug
2003
Dewar's suffers 10% drop
JOHN Dewar & Sons, the Perthshire-based whisky distiller owned by Bacardi, has seen a 10 per cent drop in revenue due to a fall in sales in Venezuela, Spain and France.
Announcing results for the year ended 31 March, 2003, the company - which together with Bombay Sapphire Gin, was bought by Bacardi from Diageo for more than £1.1 billion in March 1998 - suffered a fall in sales revenue from £84.2 million to £75.7m.
Pre-tax profit also took a hit, falling more than £3m to £5.9m.
Director Ian Lochhead said the drop in profits was the result of increased advertising and promotional spend. "Sales volume fell by 11 per cent overall during the year, although most major markets performed well," Lochhead said.
"The exceptions were in Venzuela, where political and economic conditions significantly affected performance; in Spain, where destocking led to a fall in shipments, and in France, where intense price competition has affected sales."
The Dewar’s brands - Dewar’s White Label, the blended brand, Dewar’s Ancestor, a 12-year-old deluxe, and five malt whiskies - were performing particularly well in Europe and Asia, said Lochhead.
Europe was particularly hard hit, contributing £7m less in revenue for the year, but turnover in the US, where Dewar’s White Label claims to be the number one selling whisky, saw a slight increase to £20m on the back of increased sales of Dewar’s Special reserve, Deluxe 12-year-old.
Dewar’s World of Whisky, the company’s £2m visitor attraction on the Tay in Aberfeldy which opened in 2000, continued its success, Lochhead said - even against a background of recession in the tourism industry, visitor numbers still increased 16 per cent to 29,000.
Dewar’s was created in 1880’s by crofter’s son John Dewar. It really took off when two of his ten children, John and Tommy, later joined the business, opening its first distillery in Aberfeldy in 1898.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
06 Aug
2003
Whisky chief shares move
VIVIAN IMERMAN, the chairman and chief executive of distiller Whyte and Mackay - formerly known as Kyndal - has won the right to buy the ten per cent of the company’s shares which are currently held by employees.
Mr Imeran said he now planned to make a formal offer to buy the shares, which will give his consortium a controlling 60 per cent stake in the distiller. German investment bank WestLB currently holds a 40 per cent share in the business.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
05 Aug
2003
Distiller toasts Festival premiere
WHISKY distiller Glenfiddich is to provide backing for the premiere of a new Scottish movie at the Edinburgh International Film Festival.
The company’s sponsorship of Afterlife, which stars Kevin McKidd of Trainspotting and Small Faces fame, forms part of an ambitious bid by the distiller to entice younger drinkers to malt whisky. The film tells the story of a young journalist set to get the breakthrough of his career when his dying mother asks him to take on the care of his disabled sister.
George Thomson, managing director of Scottish sales at Glenfiddich owner William Grant & Sons, said: "This sponsorship was a good fit for us as we are keen to support up-and-coming Scottish talent. It is also likely to appeal to the stylish younger malt drinkers we are targeting."
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
01 Aug
2003
Confusion as Kyndal axes 200 jobs
TROUBLED whisky group Kyndal ditched its obscure corporate moniker yesterday as it confirmed that 200 Scottish jobs were set to be axed through a shake-up of its bottling operations.
The Glasgow-based drinks colossus has adopted the name of its most famous brand, Whyte and Mackay - a move that left industry observers slightly baffled.
While the swingeing job cuts had been anticipated in The Scotsman, the company has left its staff in the dark by refusing to reveal which of its two bottling operations - at Grangemouth and Leith - will be closed.
Chairman and chief executive Vivian Imerman dismissed the job losses as "a fact of life". He added: "The redundancies will predominantly come from the bottling hall, but will also include a small number of general administrative jobs.
"As of yet, we have not decided which site will close, it oscillates between the two. It is a hugely complicated exercise and a decision will be made by the end of September."
On the name change, he added: "I am a very simple person, I go back to basics and do not try and concentrate on the negative. Whyte and Mackay, were two Scottish businessmen who were highly focused on quality and customer needs. That is what we aim to be."
Kyndal has been weighed down with debt since its creation through a £200 million management buy-out in October 2001. In February, chief executive Brian Megson quit, launching a management exodus that has seen all five of the founding directors leave.
The shake-up will lead to a cash injection of £70m, generated partly through the sale of non-core assets. More than £50m will be spent on marketing the four core brands - Whyte and Mackay, Isle of Jura, Dalmore and Vladivar vodka, as well as building the own-label whisky business. The remaining £20m will be spent on the restructuring.
But analysts remained unimpressed. One said: "Whyte and Mackay is not the most dynamic company and I suspect it will remain much the company it was but spending more on brands. It will be an uphill struggle to turn it round. They will not turn the own-label market round overnight and their four brands, although very good, are in a fiercely competitive market."
An industry insider added: "We are no clearer of his plans than we were yesterday. Either he [Imerman] doesn’t know what he is doing or he has made his mind up and doesn’t want to reveal which one will be closed. But that is an odd decision, as you can imagine what staff morale will be like from now until the end of September."
Imerman confirmed his intention to buy-out the management’s shares, giving him a 60 per cent stake in the firm. An extraordinary general meeting to approve proposals that would make it easier for a large shareholder to buy out the company’s smaller investors has been called for 5 August.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
29 Jul
2003
Price cut raises whisky drinkers' spirits
WHISKY drinkers were raising a glass last night after new figures revealed the price of a dram has fallen to its lowest level for two years.
Despite the growth in premium malt sales and the popularity of so-called icon brands - Chivas Regal 50-year-old enjoys healthy sales at £8,888 a bottle - for the not so discerning drinker, whisky is less expensive in real terms than for many years...
Click here for full story
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
27 Jul
2003
Grant hunting creative talent
WILLIAM Grant & Sons is inviting pitches for its £2.5m Glenfiddich whisky creative account just 19 months after appointing McCann-Erickson to the job.
McCann held the account for 27 years until 1999, when it was dropped, but the firm was re-appointed in December 2001.
The move follows the departure of former managing director Patrick Thomas, who left in April following a disagreement with the Grant family.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
25 Jul
2003
Trophies and medals raise spirits at Chivas
CHIVAS Brothers, the Scotch whisky business owned by Pernod Ricard, has won two trophies and three gold medals at this year’s International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC).
The firm has also been short-listed for the distiller of the year award, which will be announced at a presentation and banquet in the City of London on October 28.
The trophy for best blended Scotch whisky was awarded to Chivas’ Royal Salute 21 Year Old for the second year running.
Aberlour 10 Year Old also clinched a trophy for best single malt under 12 years old and won particular praise from the judges for its "guts and glamour".
The gold medals were presented to Chivas for its trio of single malts - Longmorn 15 Year Old, the Glenlivet 12 Year Old French Oak Finish and the Glenlivet 18 Year Old.
The Glenlivet 18 Year Old achieved the distinction of winning gold medals at both the IWSC and the International Spirits Challenge for two successive years.
Martin Riley, Chivas Brothers’ international marketing director, said: "We are honoured to have achieved such a high level of success for the second year in a row at one of the world’s most prestigious awards competition."
Established 25 years ago, the IWSC is designed to promote the quality and excellence of the world’s best wines, spirits and liqueurs.
Last year, Pernod Ricard sold more than 2.8 million cases of the 12-year-old Chivas Regal malt worldwide, making it the number two spirit in Duty Free and the number one premium scotch in the eurozone.
The group recently unveiled a £28 million global marketing push to make Chivas Regal the world’s leading premium whisky brand.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
23 Jul
2003
Edrington takes first office shot at Far East
EDRINGTON Group, the Scottish whisky group, has opened an office in China - the first Scotch maker to do so.
The company, known for its Macallan, Cutty Sark and Famous Grouse brands, opened the office in Shanghai in a bid to boost sales in the Chinese and Asian markets.
Demand for the drink has soared in the Far East, with the clamour for malts up by 23 per cent and 26 per cent respectively in the two markets over the past five years.
Staffed by a team of five, the Shanghai office will be the headquarters for markets including Greater China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea and Japan and stretching as far as Australia and New Zealand. The office will play the lead role in a multi-million pound investment in Asia by Edrington to develop its key brands, including Highland Park.
Martin Reimann, Edrington’s Asia Pacific regional director, said:
"Shanghai was selected as it is the commercial heart of China, itself the fastest growing economy in the world. It also gives us invaluable proximity to other local markets.
"It has exciting potential, there is a huge appetite for high quality whisky brands and we are well placed to satisfy demand."
Scotland’s Enterprise Minister Jim Wallace welcomed the move.
He said: "Our Global Connections strategy encourages companies to embrace globalisation and integrate the Scottish economy into the world economy.
"This is an excellent example of a leading Scottish company trailblazing new business opportunities and taking advantage of new markets."
Earlier this month, Glasgow-based Edrington posted a 24.6 per cent increase in pre-tax profits to a record £61.7 million. Turnover was up 14.9 per cent to £230.7m for the year ended 31 March, from £200.8m the year before.
In September, the distiller signed a contract with Hite, South Korea’s leading drinks distribution company, to promote a premium malt exclusively for that market.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
23 Jul
2003
Macallan distillery opens Shanghai office
THE Macallan distillery on Speyside has become the first Scotch whisky manufacturer to open an office in China as part of a major drive to boost sales in the Far East and the Pacific.
The distillery’s Shanghai office was officially opened yesterday, to coincide with the Euromoney Entrepreneurs conference in the city, at which Prime Minister Tony Blair was a key speaker.
Sales of Scottish malts have already increased by 25 per cent over the past five years in the Chinese and Asian markets.
The Macallan, owned by whisky giant Edrington, is planning to use its new base in the Far East to boost demand from a new generation of Chinese consumers.
Staffed by a team of five, the Shanghai office will be the headquarters for markets stretching from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea and Japan to Australia and New Zealand.
The base will also be used to promote other whiskies produced by the parent company, the Edrington Group, whose other brands include the Famous Grouse and Highland Park.
Martin Reimann, Edrington’s regional director for the Asia Pacific market, said:
"Having a regional base in Shanghai is pivotal to the group’s Asian strategy and customer relationships. Shanghai was selected as it is the commercial heart of China, itself the fastest growing economy in the world. It also gives us invaluable proximity to other local markets.
"It has exciting potential. There is a huge appetite for high quality whisky brands and we are well-placed to satisfy demand."
Reimann continued: "As malt whisky is discovered and explored in China, a new generation of consumers is emerging.
"They are hungry for knowledge, enjoy the experience of finding great quality brands and are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their choice of drink. We are optimistic about the future as we see this trend continuing."
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
20 Jul
2003
£1.2bn of alcohol 'spirited away' in seasonally adjusted figures
IT LOOKS like statistical manoeuvring worthy of Orwell. ‘Seasonally adjusted’ export figures just published by the Scottish Executive have spirited away £1.21bn of drink.
The original figure of £2.5bn of drinks dispatched in 1997 has been revised without explanation, causing frustrated forecasters who monitor industry trends to rewrite their own records. Now they are asking why the adjustment has been made and why it has taken six years to downgrade the figure to £1.294bn.
The figures have been published every quarter and this is the first time in 24 quarters that the change has been made.
The revision has also meant downgrading the annual export total for 1997 from £18.953bn to £17.744bn, causing some angst among the country’s number-crunchers.
Peter Hughes, chief executive of Scottish Engineering, the trade organisation, said he has inquired into the 1997 figure several times without receiving a reply.
So he was astonished when the revised figures were published earlier this month. He said the figure will distort his presentations on Scottish manufactured goods.
Hughes, who has again written to the Executive asking for an answer, said the original figure was so far out of line with the average of £1.6bn for the years 1995 to 2002 that it should have prompted alarm bells to ring.
"A change of £1.21bn can hardly be described as trivial," he said.
A further curiosity yet to be explained is that annual exports of Scotch Whisky have been above £2bn for more than 10 years - £700m above the Executive’s total drinks tally and £500m above the total for drink, food and tobacco.
David Williamson, public affairs manager at the Scotch Whisky Association, said: "I can’t explain it. We will have to see the Executive’s figures and compare data."
A Scottish Executive spokesman said: "The manufactured exports series is primarily intended to provide an up-to-date estimate of quarterly and annual movements, but we also recognise the need for robust longer-term data. The revision to the figure for 1997 is a result of a rolling programme of methodological and data improvements intended to help bring this about."
A brief investigation was carried out at the time of the initial inquiry from Peter Hughes. This confirmed that data had been "recorded correctly and there were no errors in methodology", he said.
"However, we recognised that more work was required. Following a more detailed investigation, but added: "We have concluded that the 1997 Q2-Q4 figures for drink are significantly ‘off-trend’ and have adjusted them in line with other evidence from the industry during that period."
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
20 Jul
2003
Whisky fans drink to Glenturret's rare vintage
SCOTLAND’S oldest distillery, Glenturret, will this week unveil a special limited edition bottling which is attracting worldwide interest from Scotch whisky connoisseurs.
The new bottling for the 10-year-old single malt has been launched with two vintage limited editions - 1972 and 1980 cask strength. They will be the first limited edition bottlings released by the distillery for a decade and are signed by distillery manager Neil Cameron and stillman Hugh Malloy.
Glenturret, based at Crieff and founded in 1775, is one of five distilleries to receive an £8m makeover from parent company Edrington.
The group has spent more than £5m on productivity and efficiency improvements at its five distilleries and, in the past two years, ploughed more than£3m into improving its distillery visitor centres.
The Bafta-winning Famous Grouse Experience at Glenturret opened last year and the investment by the group is paying dividends, according to Derek Brown, brands heritage director.
"Since opening in June 2002 visitor numbers have risen by 22% and we are delighted with the response from the domestic market, which has seen us very busy at weekends during the start of the year, traditionally a quiet time," Brown said.
"Over 25% of our visitors now come from Scotland and a younger, more family-orientated profile is emerging, which is great news."
Distillery visits are proving more and more attractive to British tourists choosing short domestic breaks amid anxiety about international unrest and Sars. And despite tourism industry fears of a downturn in the number of overseas holidaymakers visiting Scotland, there are indications that this season may not be hit as hard as some are predicting.
Tourist numbers at Edrington’s distilleries in the first three months of this year were encouraging. Another rewarding trend emerging, said Brown, is the number - about 15% - who make repeat visits.
The introduction of a range of special events and theme days has contributed to a renewed interest in what distilleries have to offer. The group is also focusing on widening the service offered to visitors, including the range of languages which tour guides can offer. At The Macallan distillery, this includes sign language tours for visitors with impaired hearing.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
18 Jul
2003
Blackwood lands US deal to raise spirits in Shetland
BLACKWOOD Distillers, which is planning to build Shetland’s first whisky distillery, has signed a major deal to supply more than 45,000 cases of its new range of white spirits to the US.
The distiller, which last month published a share prospectus in an attempt to raise £1.5 million to finance the building of the distillery, said shipments of its newly- launched "Shetland" range, including, Nordic gin, vodka, whisky cream liqueur and vanilla vodka cream liqueur, will begin in mid-September.
The range, which uses ingredients sourced from the Shetland Isles, is being produced in the west of Scotland for Blackwood by an unnamed company. Chief executive Caroline Whitfield said: "It is an unusual step to go for the export market before establishing a domestic presence, but we have chosen that strategy because Shetland exists on exports."
The deal in the US is expected to worth more than £5m. Whitfield said: "Since we launched the range at the international drinks trade at VinExpo2003 in Bordeaux in June, we have signed distribution deals in Canada, the UK, Malaysia and now the US."
The firm also has interest from 16 other countries. Blackwood aims to start building next year on what will be Britain’s most northerly distillery, at a cost of £5m, based at Catfirth near Lerwick. The plans are to produce 40,000 cases a year of premium single malt whisky. With the whisky market worth about £3 billion a year in the UK, and with single malts growing at 11 per cent per annum, Blackwood said she is aiming for a 1 per cent global market share by 2008.
Working capital in the early years will be assisted by the parallel development of the Shetland range of spirits.
Whitefield, who previously worked with Diageo and Unilever, has assembled an experienced team. Joining her on the board is former Seagram’s chairman James Espey and Dr Arthur Davies, who inspired the building of the Gwalia distillery in the Brecon Beacons in 1999. Tom Jago, the marketing mastermind behind Baileys and Johnny Walker Blue, has been brought in to assist the launch of the Shetland range.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
12 Jul
2003
Kyndal restructuring will see plant closures
A SECRETIVE review of Kyndal, the whisky maker behind Whyte & Mackay and Isle of Jura single malt, will result in the closure of at least one of its two bottling plants in Grangemouth and Leith, The Scotsman can reveal.
Vivian Imerman, executive chairman of the troubled Glasgow firm, commissioned a radical restructuring plan earlier this year from consultants Bain & Co. Details of the review have been kept under tight wraps, but yesterday Imerman disclosed there will be far-reaching implications for the group’s 700-strong Scottish workforce.
Kyndal operates three major sites in Scotland, including the two bottling plants and its headquarters in Glasgow. Asked if any of them will be closed under the review, Imerman told: The Scotsman "It will definitely involve the disappearance of one of them."
Asked if two sites could be shut, Imerman said: "Very possibly. What I actually don’t know is which [will close]."
Imerman expects Bain & Co to hand over its full set of recommendations by the end of next week. He promised to make the findings public "very shortly thereafter".
The radical overhaul is vital to bring Kyndal up to "international standards and disciplines which the company hasn’t had in the past," he said.
"It involves the strategy around branding, the value forming areas, technology, manufacturing processes, and, in general, running the business. It’s a bottom to top exercise."
Separately, Kyndal’s finance director, Ron MacEachran, walked away from the company that he helped buy from Jim Bean Brands in 2000.
Kyndal said MacEachran, one of five members of Kyndal’s MBO team, will depart with immediate effect, although he will retain a consultancy role for the next year.
He is the sixth executive to resign or be sacked by Kyndal in the past six months, beginning with chief executive Brian Megson in February.
Imerman downplayed the loss of MacEachran - whose departure he said was "amicable" - as he waved a letter from Kyndal’s majority shareholder WestLB. Robin Saunders, the controversial financier who backed Kyndal’s MBO in 2001, wrote to Imerman assuring him that WestLB’s 40 per cent stake in the company - which she bought for just £1,000 - is not for sale.
Imerman and his brother-in-law, Iranian tycoon Robert Tchenguiz, control a 35 per cent stake in Kyndal, with staff owning the remaining quarter of the shares.
Imerman said: "This letter is great news, because speculation about the uncertainty of [WestLB’s] stake has been a worry to our suppliers and our staff and company. So we’re very glad the situation has been cleared up".
Explaining the unexpected departure of Kyndal’s finance chief, Imerman said: "Change always leads to unrest. Some people will stay with us, others will not ... it is human nature."
MacEachran’s exit leaves the Kyndal board with six non-executive directors, plus Imerman. It is in the process of recruiting a commercial director. About 20 sales staff are also being hired.
Imerman, who made his name as the man behind Del Monte in the 1990s, confirmed he still hopes to buy the 25 per cent of Kyndal’s shares owned by staff. He said: "I want to have a uniform profit incentive across the group."
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
10 Jul
2003
Big names keep spirits up for Diageo in face of sales slump
DIAGEO, the world’s biggest spirits company, has seen a strong performance from its premium brands help offset an overall slump in second half sales.
The firm cited the outbreak of the flu-like Sars virus and the Iraq war as factors in the slide in the second half.
In an end-of-year trading update ahead of its results for the year to June 30, the company - formed from the merger of drinks group Guinness and food and spirits firm Grand Metropolitan in 1997 - said trading conditions had remained tough during the last six months of the year.
And while it added that it did not expect net sales to be higher than the four per cent seen in the first half, it forecast that its organic operating profit would be "marginally better" than the six per cent recorded in the first half.
David Liston, a fund manager at Gerrard, said: "With all that was going on in the second half, I’d have thought it could have been worse.
"The new year will be less challenging than the last, but maybe not much."
The addition of Seagram group brands such as Captain Morgan and Crown Royal whisky will help support earnings, analysts said.
Chief executive Paul Walsh said: "All consumer goods companies have faced an environment of declining consumer confidence and significant global events in the year.
"Despite these circumstances, Diageo will deliver consistent performance in top and bottom line organic growth, continued growth in priority brands and improved share."
The company said that volumes of its eight "global priority brands'" such as Johnnie Walker Black Label Scotch whisky and Baileys liqueur improved in the second half, led by growth of Guinness stout and Smirnoff vodka.
But it did not provide any breakdown on the brands. However, it did say that the eight brands accounted for about 57 per cent of the group’s sales.
In the six months to December 31, London-based Diageo saw underlying operating profits remain broadly unchanged at £1.24 billion.
Consumer goods firms are struggling as shoppers hold on to their cash amid the global economic slowdown.
European drinks groups Heineken and Interbrew and consumer products giant Unilever have all highlighted tough trading conditions in recent weeks.
Diageo indicated that demand for ready-to-drink spirits such as Smirnoff Ice, which have been hit by higher taxes introduced last year, was coming off the boil after last year’s explosive growth as new competitors entered the market and governments hiked excise duties. It predicted that Smirnoff Ice sales were set to show a fall of about three per cent over the full year.
Diageo, which has sold food groups Pillsbury and Burger King to focus on its spirits division, said it expected to take a charge of £95 million to operating profits in the year to end-June 2004, due to its £1.4bn pension deficit.
Analysts said this was in line with their expectations..
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
09 Jul
2003
Whisky distiller aims high
WHISKY distiller Glenfiddich is to sponsor this weekend’s Centenary of Flight Air Show in East Lothian as part of a marketing drive behind its new Caoran Reserve malt.
The whisky has been developed to recreate the flavour of whisky distilled in the 1930s and 40s.
The air show, which marks the 100th anniversary of the first flight, is expected to attract a crowd of more than 15,000 to East Fortune and will feature aeronautical displays by 34 planes, with a further 50 aircraft to view on the ground.
Glenfiddich, owned by William Grant & Sons, is the world’s best-selling malt whisky, with more than three million regular UK customers.
Spokeswoman Elizabeth Lafferty said: "The Museum of Flight air show is growing in stature and this year is bidding to become Scotland’s premier aeronautical event.
"There is an incredible diversity of aircraft scheduled to participate in the flight programme including a 1930s Tiger Moth which has been renamed Caoran - The Independent Spirit for the day."
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
06 Jul
2003
Plenty of bottle for hard decisions
IF THERE is something of a mercenary about Vivian Imerman, it is probably summed up in a comment he made recently on his approach to the way he conducts business. The chief executive and chairman of Scotch whisky group Kyndal once remarked: "I’m not in business to be popular, I’m in business to be effective. You can’t bank popularity, you can only bank cashflow... Click here for full story
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
06 Jul
2003
Diageo aims to cut £50m transport bill in half
WHISKY giant Diageo wants to halve its £50m Scottish transport bill in a move that heralds a shake-up in the drinks distribution sector.
The group behind Bell’s and Johnnie Walker whiskies as well as Gordon’s Gin is considering a number of radical new schemes including support for a budget air freight service and a new deep sea port in the Orkneys.
The company has commissioned Edinburgh’s Napier University to look at ways of stripping out distribution costs.
It is not known where the cuts will fall, but Diageo’s roster of transport companies includes Renfrewshire-based Malcolm Group and English, Scottish & Welsh Railways.
Allan Burns, joint executive director of Diageo’s Scottish arm, said: "Right now my focus is on the route to market. It is almost as expensive to hold, move and warehouse things as to produce them. The question is - how do we get a better infrastructure out of Scotland?"
Diageo plans to cut its transport costs by 5-10% a year until it achieves a 50% reduction.
Burns said: "Our transport costs are £50m per year from Scotland. Total distribution costs from Scotland are £250m, which is where you start to get into significant sums."
The director said he hoped to have a more detailed cost-cutting plan by the end of the year. At the moment 65% of Diageo’s Scottish-produced drink is transported by sea, 30% by rail and 5% by road.
While some of its transport agents could lose out in the shake-up, others may benefit if contracts are merged. Burns said cutting costs would allow Diageo’s Scottish operations such as bottling plants to fight off competition from abroad.
Although Scotch whisky has to be made and matured in Scotland, it can be bottled elsewhere.
One idea developed by Diageo and Napier is for a low-cost freight airline - a cargo version of the budget carriers.
Transporting whisky by plane would dramatically cut the time it takes to get goods to market but air freight is still expensive.
Diageo is also keen to support Scotland’s first deep sea port, which looks set to be sited in the Orkney Isles.
A local deep sea port would cut out the need to transport whisky and gin to ports such as Felixstowe in England or Rotterdam in the Netherlands.
Diageo exports 40,000 containers of drink every year.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
03 Jul
2003
A dram good set of results
FAMOUS Grouse producer Edrington has reported a 24.6 per cent surge in pre-tax profits to a record £61.7 million.
Turnover at the distiller, which also makes the Macallan malt, rose 14.9 per cent to £230.7m for the year.
Chairman and chief executive Ian Good said the group had enjoyed strong sales growth across all its brands, including Cutty Sark and Highland Park. Mr Good is also chairman of the Scotch Whisky Association.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
02 Jul
2003
Drams ahoy as Ark Royal drops in
AN unexpected guest turning up on your doorstep could be a problem, especially if it happened to be a 20,000-tonne aircraft carrier.
But the Ardbeg Distillery on Islay was more than happy to welcome the Ark Royal.
The Ileach, the local paper, had reported during the war in Iraq that the Ark Royal did not have one single bottle of malt on board out in the Gulf. So Jackie Thomson and Emma McGeachie at the Old Kiln Café got to work and one was soon on its way.
Back in Blighty, the Ark Royal had a three-week refit at Portsmouth before heading up to Greenock. With a day to spare last week, Captain Allan Massey decided to drop in on Ardbeg and say thank you. So he parked his ship, or rather moored his vessel, a mile off Lagavulin Bay and drew lots for crew members to go ashore.
Stuart Thomson, the manager, gave them a tour of the distillery and they returned the compliment, inviting ten distillery staff on board for dinner and more drinks. Anchors aweigh. And there’s a promise that the Ark Royal will pop back in the next time she is in the neighbourhood.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
02 Jul
2003
Kyndal chief steps down
KYNDAL, the whisky distiller, has confirmed sales director Iain Gilchrist is to stand down in September, making him the fifth senior director to leave this year.
Mr Gilchrist was part of the five-strong team that led the £208 million management buyout of Kyndal from Jim Beam Brands in 2001. Since the record-breaking MBO, chief executive Brian Megson, operations director Ian Palmer, human resources director Alan Mackie and Douglas Reid, head of logistics, have left the group.
A spokesman for Kyndal, which makes Whyte & Mackay, Vladivar vodka and Glayva liqueur, said: "Iain Gilchrist has intimated his wish to work with his wife in developing her business.
"He will remain in his present role until September and beyond this he will continue to have a very important part-time role."
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
01 Jul
2003
Early end to tariffs gives Scotch a lift
THE Scotch whisky industry will receive a major boost today as eight Eastern European countries lift import tariffs on the national drink.
The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) said the countries - the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Slovakia and Slovenia - are lifting their tariffs ten months early as part of preparations for joining the European Union.
Under EU rules, neither tariffs nor quotas can apply to goods being shipped within the single market.
Tim Jackson, director of International Affairs at the SWA, said negotiations started back in 1998 to ensure that tariffs are eliminated in line with single market rules. "Today we can see our efforts beginning to pay dividends," he said.
"Tariff elimination, ranging from 5 per cent in the Czech Republic to 40.8 per cent in Hungary, alongside the adoption of EU rules ending discriminatory taxation and protecting the definition of whisky, will significantly improve market access for Scotch whisky in Central and Eastern Europe," he added.
Last year, Eastern Europe was worth £21 million in Scotch sales with the eight countries together purchasing more than 500,000 cases.
Of the ten countries granted entry to the European Union in December 2002, only Poland and Cyprus have now refused to lift their tariffs early.
Jackson added: "Poland is stalling as it has a large domestic vodka market and it wants to protect that, but make no mistake they will have to remove them in 2004."
The news comes at a crucial time for the Scotch whisky industry which is being hit by a downturn in global markets. Recent figures published by the SWA reveal that exports in blended whisky fell last year by 6.9 per cent to 943.4 million bottles.
Alan Gray, whisky analyst at stockbrokers Sutherlands, said that at the moment Eastern Europe is not a significant market compared with South America or Western Europe - but given time it could increase, maybe by as much as three-fold.
Gray said that as part of the old eastern bloc, sales of Scotch whisky in most of those countries had been restricted, and the lifting of tariffs will allow Scottish firms to gain a foothold: "This is good news for the industry. These markets all have potential as they have a heritage of spirits and whisky drinking."
Distillers will hope to repeat the success experienced in Greece. Five years after joining the European Community in 1981, sales of scotch whisky had risen by 450 per cent to £19m.
Now the market there is worth more than £92m a year and is the seventh-largest export market worldwide.
Leonard Russell, managing director of Glengoyne distillery, which has a foothold in Eastern Europe with the King Robert blend, said he was excited about the possibilities in the market.
He said: "We sell 1,500 cases a year of King Robert, a blended whisky, to Estonia on the back of 400,000 cases worldwide. Evaluating the broad scope of counties I would say the Czech Republic looks like the most significant in terms of growth."
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
30 Jun
2003
More staff to go as Kyndal regroups its finances
MORE staff at whisky group Kyndal will be axed in the coming months as the firm, which is labouring under more than £200 million of debt, completes its restructuring exercise.
For the last two months, City consultant Bain & Company has been undertaking a strategic review to determine how the firm can keep its cost base low and achieve future growth. This has already resulted in the axing of humans resources director Allan Mackie and operations director Ian Palmer.
But it has emerged that more staff will be forced to go as chief executive and chairman Vivian Imerman was reported to have admitted the possibility of further job cuts.
An announcement is due in mid-July, but industry sources have said that Kyndal’s bottling plants in Grangemouth and Leith could be hardest hit by the review. Grangemouth is thought to employ about 60 people while there are 250 at the bigger Edinburgh facility.
Yesterday Imerman, who owns 35 per cent of the firm, would not be drawn on job-cut speculation, but issued a statement saying: "Today’s spirits market is highly competitive and we need to move ahead with the times to keep our cost base low and achieve future growth.
"Over the past couple of months we have been undertaking a strategic review of our operations together with Bain & Co.
"The aim of this review was to look at changing pressures in the industry, see how our structure adapts accordingly and ensure that we manage the business responsibly. There is inevitably, and regrettably, some fall-out that comes from reviews such as these."
The Whyte & Mackay and Isle of Jura whisky group, which also owns Vladivar vodka and Glayva liqueur, may be forced to off-load one of its own-label brands if the report recommends concentrating on the major brands.
Yesterday, Imerman said: "I am not going to pre-empt Bain’s findings. However, I can confirm that Kyndal pulling out of own-label is not on the cards.
"Everyone is well aware of the pricing pressures in own-label, but it is still a valuable part of our company and one which we will continue to develop."
Last week it emerged that Imerman offered to buy the equity stake held by Kyndal’s staff for £5 per share - a 20 per cent premium on the management buy out price of £4 per share. In doing so he could take his personal equity stake to 60 per cent. Currently his stake is worth around £10m.
Earlier this month Kyndal reported operating profits of more than £20m on turnover of £157m in the 14 months to the end of last September.
But interest and other charges on its debt pile slashed the pre-tax figure to just under £600,000.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
29 Jun
2003
Whisky Post
Distiller Glenmorangie has appointed Peter Jensen, 52, formerly president of worldwide supply operations at SmithKline Beecham, as a non-executive director. Mr Jensen has wide experience with leading consumer brand organisations in the UK and internationally. In previous posts he was chairman of SmithKline Beecham Consumer Healthcare-Europe and he has held divisional directorship and senior marketing positions with Beechams and Sterling Drug.
Article Courtesy of The Sunday Times
timesonline.co.uk
29 Jun
2003
Whisky sector braced for shake-up
THE whisky sector is bracing itself for the outcome of Kyndal’s three-month review that could have implications for the own-brand business.
Kyndal is the biggest supplier to the supermarkets, and for years the own-brand sector has grappled with heavy discounting that has eroded margins.
Bain & Co, the consultancy that was brought in to advise Guinness during the Bell’s and Distillers takeovers in the 1980s, is expected to offer a crucial turning point for Kyndal when it reports its findings in the middle of July.
If it recommends building the brands, it could spell a big upheaval in the own-brand sector and possibly the rationalisation of Kyndal’s bottling plants. A spokeswoman admitted last week: "There will be some internal restructuring."
One industry source said Vivian Imerman, the South African businessman who has put himself in charge of Kyndal, almost certainly knows what the report will tell him, and in an interview with Scotland on Sunday today he says he plans brand-building and hints at further cutbacks.
"I don’t think there is much that Bain can tell him that he doesn’t already know," said the source. "He already seems to be going down the brands route. It might lead to acquisitions. But where that will leave the supermarket business is unclear."
Offloading an own-label business which it built up with the long and acrimonious acquisition of Invergordon in 1994 would be difficult in a market that has excess capacity. Furthermore, industry observers believe Imerman and his backers at German finance house WestLB overestimated the value of the Kyndal brands.
"Whyte & Mackay is a perfectly respectable brand but it is not a leader and doesn’t sell much outside the UK. I don’t think Imerman and his backers fully appreciated what they were getting into.
"Everything he is doing suggests he sees it as a brands business, but it is not where its strengths lie," said one source. A more welcome move would be for Kyndal to hold on to its supermarket business and assist in raising prices, he said.
Prices of own-label whisky have barely moved from where they were 15 years ago, but there is little optimism in the industry that the impasse over discounting is likely to end. The problem is buyers who will switch to other suppliers.
Some say Imerman might find difficulty wrenching the company away from this market as the acquisition of Invergordon immediately turned the company into ‘an own-label business with brands attached’.
Should the own-label business be the victim of the shake-up, it could put a question mark over the bottling plants at Grangemouth and Edinburgh. Only one would be expected to survive if the company goes down the brands route.
Grangemouth is thought to employ about 60 people while there are 250 at the bigger Edinburgh facility.
Imerman has hinted at acquisitions, another indication of his preferred options in building the brand side of the company, but at the time of the management buyout in October 2001, industry observers felt this might prove difficult for a company not associated with brand leaders.
The long shadow of Invergordon had returned to haunt the company, said one source. When Whyte & Mackay, then owned by Gallaher, acquired Invergordon at the second attempt, it sent in advisers. But as one source said yesterday: "They must have known everything they needed to know by then. I think Vivian Imerman is doing the same thing. He must have an idea of what needs to be done."
The shake-up at senior level has already begun. Brian Megson, the chief executive, left abruptly earlier this year and has been followed by a number of key industry stalwarts, including whisky sector veteran Ian Palmer. Others could follow.
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
29 Jun
2003
Record results for Edrington
EDRINGTON Group, owner of the Famous Grouse whisky, will post record results this week but warn of challenging times ahead as global economic uncertainties take their toll.
The company, which last year posted a pre-tax profit of £49.5m on turnover of £200.8m, will report ‘large single digit’ growth for its four main brands - Famous Grouse, Cutty Sark, The Macallan and Highland Park.
Industry analysts said Edrington would announce particularly strong growth in Mediterranean and Asian markets, with its single malts performing above expectations. It is understood the company will announce that Famous Grouse has consolidated its UK position in a competitive market for blended whiskies.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
28 Jun
2003
Whisky bars eye-up title
A Number of North hotels have reached the finals of The Glenlivet Bar of the Year award. The Hunting Lodge Hotel, Putechan, Bellochantuy, near Campbeltown, which has more than 200 whiskies on its shelves and specialises in rare casks and whiskies from closed distilleries, is in the running for the prestigious award. But the hotel, which was originally built as a hunting lodge for the Duke of Argyll, has some fierce competition. Finalists in the whisky bar category of The DRAM Licensed Trade Awards 2003, which are signed to recognise and reward excellence in the industry, include The Quaich Bar at Craigellacie Hotel, Craigellachie, Speyside. The Quaich Bar can offer more than 500 single-malt whiskies. Also in the finals is the Forss House Hotel, Forss, near Thurso, in Caithness, where nearly 30 whiskies, grouped by region, are on sale. The collection includes a number of rare malts. Rosemount Golf Hotel, Rosemount, Blairgowrie, a small, independent establishment popular with golfers and locals alike, is the other finalist. Its bar is stocked with more than 100 different whiskies. To reach the final, the bars had to show a 'real passion' for whisky. The winner will be the bar judged by the panel to best fulfil these criteria. The Glenlivet Whisky Bar of the Year 2003 award will be announced and presented by Jim Cryle, The Glenlivet Master Distiller, at The DRAM Licensed Trade Awards Ceremony in Glasgow on Monday July 7.
Articles Courtesy of The Press and Journal
pressandjournal
28 Jun
2003
Scotch Whisky Association talks tax with delegation from Turkey
THE Scotch Whisky Association has hosted its first-ever trade delegation from Turkey this week, as part of its drive to exploit emerging markets.
A group of senior Turkish officials from the ministry of tax and revenue met representatives of the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) in Edinburgh to discuss ways in which the high level of duty enforced on whisky by the Turkish authorities could be reduced.
Last year, exports to Turkey were worth £15.8 million, although the SWA believe that the potential is unlimited - once the tax issues are resolved.
Commenting on the visit, SWA’s chief executive Hugh Morison, said: "Tackling excessive taxation and improving market access in Turkey is one of our top trade priorities. This week’s visit by Turkish officials was an opportunity for us to illustrate the benefits of taxing imported spirits at a reasonable rate.
"Encouragingly, the early indications from the visit are that Turkey will take steps to reform its tax system early next year."
Many industry analysts believe that Turkey, population 60 million, where drinkers traditionally choose spirits, could potentially be another Spain for scotch whisky distillers.
Scotch exports to Spain trebled in five years following the removal of trade barriers in 1986, and the market is now worth £256m a year.
The visit included a tour of Edinburgh’s Glenkinchie distillery, the bottling plant at Glenmorangie and meetings with HM Customs and Excise officials in Manchester.
Paul Neep, chief executive of Glenmorangie described the visit as "very worthwhile."
He added: "Anything we can do to make Turkey a fairer market is beneficial for the industry."
Last year, total whisky volume exports fell nearly 7 per cent to the equivalent of 943.4 million bottles. But the growth in sales of malt whisky meant the value of these sales slipped only marginally, down 0.45 per cent to £2.28 billion.
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
23 Jun
2003
Kyndal's chief bids for shares
VIVIAN Imerman, the chairman and chief executive of Scottish drinks giant Kyndal, has offered £5 a share to staff investors to give up their 25 per cent equity stake, in a bid to seize control of the group.
At present, Mr Imerman holds a 35 per cent stake in the firm, which owns the Whyte & Mackay whisky brand, but an agreed buy-out of the staff-owned shares would increase his ownership to about 60 per cent.
That would leave him as the lone stakeholder alongside Robin Saunders’ West LB principal finance group, which debt-funded a management buyout two years ago.
About 70 Kyndal managers and staff put up nearly £1 million at £4 a share to help fund the £208m MBO - Scotland’s largest deal of its kind to date.
Mr Imerman insisted there was nothing untoward about the move, and said his decision was driven by "personal circumstances". He said: "It is normal practice for any manager and staff participating in an MBO to invest in the equity of the company.
"The movements of shares between these individuals takes place on an ongoing basis."
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
22 Jun
2003
First Shetland distillery woos investors with malt
SMALL investors are to get the chance to own part of Shetland’s first ever whisky distillery.
Blackwood Distillery, the brainchild of former Diageo consultant Caroline Whitfield, is looking for £1.5m from private investors as part of an effort to raise a total of £3.7m.
First round shareholders, who have to invest a minimum of £1,500, will receive a special ‘Investors Reserve’ malt whisky dividend on top of their normal return. The Blackwood team is now awaiting approval from Highlands and Islands Enterprise for a capital grant of £1.1m. The new distillery will create 45 jobs in Shetland.
Whitfield said: "Shetland has never had a whisky distillery because it follows the Norse tradition of white spirit drinking rather than Celtic whisky drinking. Also, there was never enough barley to make whisky - it was all used as animal feed. The malt whisky Blackwood will produce is expected to taste like a light Islay malt - or a light Talisker."
She added that Shetland, with its very moist air, local water and peat, was an ideal location to make high quality single malts.
Blackwood is launching a Nordic gin, Nordic vodka and a cream liqueur this month and will produce its first whisky in four years.
The prospectus is available through Beer & Partners, the business angel investor network. The new company is chaired by the James Espey, the former chairman of Seagrams Distillers.
Click here to read November 2002 Press Release: 5million-nov02.pdf
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
22 Jun
2003
Whisky 'chieftain' will use amber nectar as tourist lure
IT HAS been used for centuries to revive the spirits, enliven any evening and fend off the cold. Now our national drink is to be used to lure more tourists.
Scotland is to get its first whisky ‘chieftain’ to exploit the worldwide interest in the amber liquid. A £180,000 funding package has been approved for two years and an appointment will be announced shortly.
One of the chieftain’s first tasks will be to recruit around 40 hotels and guest houses to act as unofficial whisky ‘embassies’, where staff will be trained as whisky experts.
Alastair McIntosh, managing director of the Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre in Edinburgh, said: "We are very excited about this development as this will be a brand new post. It will allow us to draw up a proper strategy for exploiting whisky power."
The post of whisky tourism development manager is being funded by a private and public-sector consortium, including Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and VisitScotland.
Whisky tourism already generates around £17m a year for the Scottish economy, due mainly to the 43 distillery visitor centres that have mushroomed in the past 30 years.
But the consortium believes the sum could be doubled. A report commissioned from the RGA leisure consultancy concluded that whisky tourism could generate more income if given a more prominent role in the marketing of Scotland than it has had up to now.
The Scotch Whisky Association said whisky was a key factor in the decision by many to visit Scotland and this attraction should be maximised.
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
18 Jun
2003
Whisky firm backs charity
GLENMORANGIE has signed up to Payroll Giving as a boost to good causes and the community.
The initiative enables employees to make charitable donations straight from their gross salary and the government adds an extra ten per cent donation.
HR manager Anne Tattersall said: "Glenmorangie has a long-standing commitment to corporate social responsibility."
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
18 Jun
2003
£10m plan to reopen Tullibardine Distillery
PLANS have been unveiled for a £10 million project to revitalise Perthshire’s dormant Tullibardine Distillery, creating what could become one of Scotland’s premier retail and tourist attractions.
Alan Williamson, chairman of the newly-formed Tullibardine consortium, told The Scotsman he saw the development as "the new House of Bruar" and said the site at Blackford near Gleneagles would create up to 120 jobs when it opens next summer.
Williamson said: "We believe this venture to be the first of its kind in Scotland, whereby the future of a whisky distillery and brand will be secured and supported by revenues generated from the sale of surrounding land and subsequent development of a retail complex.
"The location is ideal; situated on the A9, more than 20,000 cars pass it a day."
Led by Williamson, the four shareholders in Tullibardine include directors Douglas Ross, Michael Beamish and finance director Alastair Russell.
The four-man consortium is believed to have paid Kyndal £1.1m for the distillery, which was mothballed in 1994, and acquired the land surrounding the site on a long lease.
The 50,000 sq ft retail development will be built and financed by Edinburgh-based property firm Kenmore.
The development has been designed to attract premium retail outlets and the company has already pre-let 55 per cent of the space to Baxters Food Group.
Stephen Duncan, general manager for retail operations at Baxter’s, who is overseeing the multi-million pound investment, said: "As the anchor tenant, we are planning a large restaurant facility and retail space for cashmere and clothing, Scottish gifts and food and drink."
Funding for the Tullibardine consortium, is being provided by Barclays Bank.
Whisky production will start within months with a view to launching the first malt on to the market by 2013.
In the meantime, stocks of maturing malt whisky bought with the purchase will be released and there are plans to introduce other ranges, including a blend and a liqueur.
The distillery will also house a 6,000 sq ft showcase visitor centre, retail outlet and coffee shop.
Tullibardine director Ross said: "We are looking forward to providing a quality attraction for Scottish tourism."
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
17 Jun
2003
Austrian makes his own whisky
AN AUSTRIAN distiller has unveiled his own brand of whisky.
In a ceremony with Scottish pipers, a Druid and a haggis, the royal distiller Siegfried, Duke of Saalfelden, said the drink is one which he hopes will push the usual fruit schnapps and herbal concoctions of his homeland along the shelf.
The duke, who is 35, admitted that his product was a "flight of fancy" and was the first time that a whisky had been produced in a region more famous for cherry, plum, apricot and herbal concoctions.
However, he is unfazed at any cultural surprise. "I am proud of what I have created - moreover, it tastes excellent," he declared.
The whisky in question is called McHagmoar and was part of a selection of assorted spirits that recently won the top prize at the prestigious drinks industry Destillata Competiton. It beat off competition from 1,200 other drinks from across Europe.
And it received firm praise from, Thomas Neuhauser, a whisky specialist and writer who runs Austria’s only museum devoted to whiskies, who said: "To drink it is really a pleasure."
Mr Neuhauser described McHagmoar, which costs 54, or about £37, a bottle, as "sweet tasting, almost fruity, a beautiful malt aroma and has a light nut tone in the glass".
He added: "Most importantly, perhaps, like a good whisky should, it warms one up on the inside."
If Scots are hoping to keep the spirit away from these shores, they could be disappointed because Duke Siegfried, whose family has been distilling for two centuries, now aims to produce his whisky on a commercial basis.
He said: "I have plans to make much more. I have followed all the traditional distilling methods and I think Scottish palates would like this as much as Austrian ones.
"At present there are only a few hundred bottles of the stuff. But I will start commercial production and exportation, probably in a year or two."
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
15 Jun
2003
How to get ahead in marketing whisky
HAIR stylists have been among the unlikely contributors to a 10% rise in sales of two Scotch whisky brands.
Distiller Inver House has targeted hair salons, antiques fairs, car rallies and art exhibitions to give away samples of its Old Pulteney whisky and Heather Cream whisky liqueur. And the unorthodox approach appears to have paid off.
Geraldine Roche, the company’s marketing manager, said: "The idea is to take sampling outside the traditional setting of the bar or pub."
Old Pulteney sales broke through the £1m barrier while sales of Heather Cream, Scotland’s answer to Bailey’s Irish Cream, have risen by 12%.
Graham Stevenson, managing director, said: "We are seeing new consumers for Heather Cream. It is difficult going head-to-head with Bailey’s. You have to take it to the consumer."
Inver House, based in Airdrie, was bought for £60m in 2001 by a Thai drinks group. Pre-tax profits last year rose from £4.8m to £5m in 2001, although turnover fell by 20% to £29.8m as a number of one-off contracts ended.
Inver House owns the Wee Beastie alcopop brand and sells its MacArthur’s, Catto’s and Hankey Bannister whisky brands around the world.
The company plans to launch Wee Beastie in the US this year after making it on to the shelves of most of the UK’s biggest supermarkets.
Inver House bought the brand, which competes with Diageo’s Smirnoff Ice, six months ago from Kirkcudbright entrepreneurs John and Anne Hempstock.
Stevenson said: "We have done a reasonable amount of research in the US, and it shows there is a niche for Wee Beastie. It does not need to be hugely successful to be good for us."
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
14 Jun
2003
In the best possible spirit
It doesn’t always have to be socks and ties for Father’s Day. If your dad likes nosing a fine dram, tasting fine wines, backing the horses, dreaming about being a sommelier for the day or even indulging in some vinotherapy, here’s your chance to make it happen for him.
An unusual installation at the Whisky Shop in Glasgow’s Buchanan galleries has been causing quite a stir, with more than £80,000 worth of Vintage Macallan from six decades pinned to the wall. If you have a liquid bank account and generous nature, you can give your dad a piece of it. A "mini-art box" of all 37 miniatures from 1926 to 1972, mounted in a smart fly-fishing-style cabinet on a burgundy panel designed to emulate a wall in the National Gallery of Scotland, costs a mere £5,560. It’s a snip, apparently - these are rare whiskies drawn from the best casks at their maturation peak.
At a more modest price, you could choose a vintage year to commemorate your dad’s birth-year or some other fond memory. The 1949 Macallan vintage is fantastic, with nut-brown colour, richly peated aromas, treacle toffee, vanilla and spice flavours and a sensationally long finish that lingers for hours. (£185 per miniature, from the Whisky Shop, Princes Square, Glasgow; Buchanan Galleries, Glasgow; Princes Mall, Edinburgh, tel: 0141-331 0022; www.whiskyshop.com)
Peerless, at £70 a bottle, is a little less pricey, but still "single". The 30-year-old malt is an ideal gift for the best dad in the world. Like its stable-mate, 12-year-old single malt Whisky Galore (£26.99 a bottle, including a copy of Compton Mackenzie’s book), it has been matured by whisky brokers Duncan Taylor and comes specially packaged in a gift box. (Available from Duncan Taylor, 4 Upperkirkgate, Huntly, Aberdeenshire, 01466 794055, www.duncantaylor.com)
. Even if your dad doesn’t swing a club much these days, you can still enter him into the spirit of the game with the "official" new whisky of the world’s most famous golf course, The Old Course, St Andrews. For the first time ever it’s now on sale outside the Links Clubhouse and comes exotically packaged in a gift tin with detailed depictions of the famous 17th Road Hole, 18th Tom Morris and 10th Bobby Jones.
Made by Glenmorangie, the floral light sweetness of this 12-year-old malt is designed for mass appeal. Rather unusually, it has been matured in Chenin Blanc grape casks - an odd grape to choose, as Chenin has very subtle, often dull flavours, but it doesn’t overpower the spirit. The Old Course Clubhouse 12-year-old Single Malt (£32 bottle; £5.50 miniature) is available from The Links Clubhouse, West Sands Road, St Andrews, and all branches of The Whisky Shop in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Fortwilliam, Callander, Oban and Pitlochry (0800 980 4010; www.whiskyshop.com)...
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
11 Jun
2003
Kyndal upbeat on £600,000 profit
KYNDAL, the Glasgow-based owners of Whyte and Mackay, Dalmore and Isle of Jura whiskies has reported a pre-tax profit of £600,000 on turnover of £157 million in the 14 months to the end of last September.
Its latest accounts filed at Companies House reveal that the firm still has net borrowings of more than £200m and a pension deficit of £23m.
Speaking to The Scotsman, Kyndal chairman Vivian Imerman said he thought, on the whole, they were a pretty good set of results. Imerman said: "I am comfortable with the debt, which will be reduced by trading over a number of years."
He added that the pension deficit was being tackled by the injection of more capital every year.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
05 Jun
2003
Malt whisky exports double
EXPORTS of single malt whisky have grown by an astonishing 46 per cent in value for the first two months of the year, according to the latest government figures.
The figures published by HM Customs and Excise show that for January-February 2003, in comparison to the same period last year, total exports of bottled malts are up 46 per cent in value and 43 per cent in volume.
The rise in single malt exports continues the trend set last year when export volume increased 9.3 per cent to 46.5 million bottles with value growing 11 per cent to £268 million.
Leonard Russell, managing director of Ian Macleod, owner of Glengoyne malt whisky, described the figures as good news: "This means that single malts will have done very well over Christmas."
Around 65,000 jobs across the UK depend on Scotch whisky production, of which 90 per cent is exported.
The figures also show for January-February 2003, in comparison to the same period last year, total exports worldwide for all Scotch whisky are up 6 per cent in volume and 17 per cent in value.
During that period exports of bottled blended Scotch Whisky have increased by 14 per cent in value but are slightly down, -1 per cent, in volume.
Whisky analyst Alan Gray, author of Sutherlands Scotch Whisky Industry Review, described the figures as encouraging but tempered any excitement adding they were only two months figures.
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
04 Jun
2003
Roll out the virtual barrel
ABERLOUR, the single malt Scotch owned by Chivas Brothers, has opened a virtual distillery to give whisky lovers the chance to run their own distillery over the internet.
Visitors to the aberlour.com website will be taken through a year in the life of their distillery, condensed into just a few minutes.
During that time they can plan how long to store their whisky and choose the right barrels before it is submitted to a virtual judging panel.
Neil Macdonald, Aberlour’s brand director, said: "Short of being apprenticed to Aberlour’s master distiller in Scotland, this is probably as close as you can get to having a go at running your own distiller."
Chivas Brothers is owned by Pernod Ricard, which is spending £28 million to boost sales of its flagship Chivas Regal brand.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
01 Jun
2003
Whisky chief no Tiger Woods
IAN Curle, successor to Ian Good as chief executive of whisky group Edrington, took part in an in-house golf competition recently but showed he was no Tiger Woods.
He and his finance director Richard Hunter lost in a sudden-death play-off to two workers from the company’s bottling hall at Great Western Road in Glasgow.
It was all square after 18 holes in a preliminary-round match of the Penman Trophy being played at Crieff Golf Club. But then the opponents, Graham Dickson and Graham Hillis, won at the 20th hole with a net birdie.
Curle, a former West of Scotland rugby player, said: "Richard and I obviously took this in good heart."
The word on the street, however, is that this was a bad career move by the two Grahams. "A transfer to one of the outposts of the bevvy empire looks imminent," said an insider.
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
29 May
2003
Whisky Chief Shovelled Malt
The man named yesterday as heir apparent to a whisky kingdom is no mere number cruncher. Ian Curle 41, will succeed Ian Good as chief executive of Scotch whisky distiller Edrington next April. But the same Mr Curle got hands-on experience of every aspect of the business when he joined the group in 1986. Why, he even shovelled malt at Tamdhu distillery on Speyside during his first three months. Obviously a quick learner, he has risen to be part of the team that have a direct input into product quality. This judgement is put to the test during a weekly quality review in the sample room at the Glasgow headquarters. Said Ian, who has a son and two daughters:' It is like me sitting my Highers every Friday morning.'
Articles Courtesy of The Press and Journal
pressandjournal
28 May
2003

Scottish Food & Drink Excellence Awards 2003
The Awards which are known as the "Oscars of the Food & Drink Industry have honoured two of Scotland's Independent Whisky Companies
Duncan Taylor & Co Ltd received the highest accolade for their "Peerless/Duncan Taylor Collection of Rare Auld Single Malt & Single Grain Scotch Whiskies" coming top in the drinks section for quality, presentation and marketing. Euan Shand Director said "To get this top award against stiff competition and to be recognised for our achievements I think is testament to the quality of not only the product but ti the workforce of Duncan Taylor & Co who are all individually committed to providing service and products second to none."
Gordon & MacPhail received a lifetime achievement awards for outstanding contribution to the Scottish Food & Drink industry. Mr Sanderson who presented the award said "An independent company still in family ownership, Gordon MacPhail has achieved international recognition and has won many prestigious awards for both its single malts and blended whiskies. Our lifetime achievement award is in recognition of the companies ability to innovate and pioneer and for its unique contribution to the Scotch whisky industry which, of course, draws its raw material from Scotland's farming industry".
Article Compiled by Scotchwhisky.net

Scotchwhisky.net
23 May
2003
A dram fine selection for connoisseurs
IT HAPPENED when Raith Rovers won the Scottish League Cup, when the islanders of Eigg bought their island, and when the Royal Navy frigate HMS Argyll visited Inveraray.
All special occasions were marked with the launch of a one-off whisky.
Last night, collectors had a field day when the first auction was held in the Highlands consisting entirely of rare or unusual drams.
Some 60 local collectors were expected to bid for the 28 lots which were gathered from distilleries owned by drinks giant Diageo, which hosted the auction at its Glen Ord Distillery at Muir of Ord.
Some of the whiskies were expected to fetch several hundred pounds and it is hoped to raise £5,000-£10,000 from the event. Whatever funds are raised will be matched by Inverness and Nairn Enterprise and the total donated to the Highland Food and Drink Festival in October.
The most sought-after item was expected to be the Island of Eigg Celebration Edition, one of 270 bottles produced to mark the community take-over of the island in 1997.
Every household on the island - population 70 - received a bottle of the cask-strength whisky, while the rest was sold to help raise funds for the islanders.
The dram, from the Talisker distillery in Skye, which was founded by the MacAskill brothers who came originally from Eigg, was expected to raise up to £800 last night.
Only 60 bottles of Loch Fyne were produced to mark the visit of HMS Argyll in March this year, while a very limited number of The Final Blend was issued when Raith Rovers defeated Celtic to win the League Cup in 1994.
The Friar John Cor Quincentenary was released in 1994 to celebrate 500 years of the use of malt to produce aqua vitae, which came to be known as whisky. The successful bidder will be in exalted company, as the first bottle was presented to the Queen, the second to Baroness Thatcher and No 10 and No 11 to the then prime minister, John Major, and his chancellor, Kenneth Clark.
The Old Parr Elizabethan is one of the most expensive Scotch whiskies available, produced for the Japanese market and not readily available in the UK. It was expected to fetch over £400.
Other rare drams are the 20-year-old North Port, named after the north gate of the once walled city of Brechin which has long gone, like the distillery where the whisky was made. Said to taste of dried apricots and banana with some toasted marshmallow, only about 15,000 bottles were produced.
Elaine Bailey, Diageo’s community relations officer, said:
"Collecting can be a very serious business, but it can also be personal, and a whisky can be worth more to an individual person than what we think it is worth - a Raith Rovers supporter wanting that particular whisky for example.
"Buyers will not buy the whisky to drink, but as an investment."
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
22 May
2003
Glenmorangie trio cash in on share options
THREE directors in whisky company Glenmorangie yesterday exercised share options worth nearly £160,000, pocketing about £32,000 after selling most of the shares on the open market.
Simon Erlanger made the biggest gain, buying 8,500 shares at £4.90 and selling 8,050 shares at £7.75 - a profit of nearly £21,000.
Ian Drysdale was £9,375 ahead after buying 12,500 shares at £7 and selling them all at £7.75, while Peter Nelson made nearly £1,700 after buying 5,886 shares at between £4.70 and £5.30 and selling 4,086 at £7.75
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
20 May
2003
The Everest of whiskies
A LIMITED edition malt whisky was yesterday bottled to commemorate the first British woman to climb Mount Everest.
Rebecca Stephens, 41, was presented with a cask of new whisky spirit by the Glenmorangie Distillery when she achieved the historic feat ten years ago, and yesterday the Londoner hand-bottled the now matured single malt, which has been named the Mount Everest Malt, at the company’s distillery in Tain.
Just over 400 bottles are expected to be produced and sold in aid the Nepalese charity, the Himalayan Trust.
Ms Stephens will also present bottles to the surviving members of the 1953 Everest expedition led by Sir Edmund Hillary, which marks its 50th anniversary this month.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
20 May
2003
Scotch Whisky raises a glass to new chief
THE Scotch Whisky Association has appointed Gavin Hewitt, currently the UK’s ambassador to Belgium, as its new chief executive.
Mr Hewitt, a graduate of Edinburgh University, replaces Hugh Morison, who is retiring at the end of December after ten years with the SWA.
Ian Good, chairman of the Edinburgh-based SWA, said: "The arrival of Gavin Hewitt recognises the importance of international trade to the association’s work and the industry’s determination to remain the world’s leading drinks industry - and one of the UK’s top five foreign currency earners - at a time when the challenges facing the Scotch whisky industry have never been greater."
Mr Hewitt joined the Diplomatic Service in 1970. He has held a number of international roles, including head of the south-east Asian department at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and deputy permanent representative of the UK Mission to the United Nations in Geneva.
Mr Hewitt said he was looking forward to "returning home" to Edinburgh.
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
18 May
2003
Whisky drinkers being cheated out of £4m a year by landlords
WHISKY drinkers are being swindled out of £4m a year by licensees who substitute cheap spirits for genuine Scottish malts or blends.
New figures from industry watchdogs reveal that up to one in 10 pubs is regularly involved in the practice and one in six has carried it out occasionally.
The International Federation of Spirits Producers, the industry body, now wants bigger fines for licensees caught substituting cheap makes for branded products.
Although fines of up to £1,000 have been imposed on offenders, few are caught because of a shortage of trading standards officers. The IFSP says its own figures may be a serious underestimate of the problem because more independent restaurants and nightclubs are being tempted to take up the practice.
"This is an ongoing crime that we have tried very hard to stamp out but still persists throughout the country," a spokesman said.
"Licensees get cheaper own-label supermarket whisky, tip out the real product, and sell that on to their unknowing customers. They may even use bootlegged products smuggled in from abroad. Either way, they are able to vastly inflate their profits."
‘This is a crime we have tried hard to stamp out but still persists
Substituting is widespread. Several Glasgow publicans were fined two years ago for the offence following raids from trading standards officers tipped off by customers. Last year, a number of publicans in the Midlands were fined £1,000 after similar raids.
Whisky experts said both drinkers and whisky producers lost out. "The con is of concern because it means whisky drinkers are paying above the odds for inferior products and the producers, who rely on sales of mainstream blends to finance their malt production, are being deprived of essential revenue," said Dominic Roskrow, the editor of Whisky Magazine.
"The problem is particularly acute in the UK, where the temptation to buy cheap smuggled whisky with no duty charge has been too great for many pub licensees."
The IFSP believes some publicans go to great lengths to conceal the practice The spokesman added: "There is evidence that publicans are ringing other pubs to tip them off that trading standards officers are in the area," the spokesman said.
"They also know trading standards will usually visit at certain times, so they substitute only in the evenings or at weekends."
Earlier this year consumer watchdogs warned people in Glasgow to watch out for fake whisky contaminated with a chemical which can cause blindness. It was feared that the drink was being sold at markets in the city.
Trading standards officers issued the warning about counterfeit Johnny -Walker Black Label after bottles containing methanol were discovered in England.
In March, one woman died and another was left seriously ill after drinking bootleg vodka. The women, from East Lothian, were taken ill after consuming a large amount of ‘Vodka Russia’. It is believed to contain high levels of methanol, which causes abdominal pain, dizziness, breathing difficulties and can prove fatal, even in small quantities.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
18 May
2003
Spirited profits predicted for Glenmorangie after £12m ad campaign
GLENMORANGIE is this week expected to unveil it is reaping the benefits of a £12m advertising spend last year with strong growth in profits.
The distiller upped its advertising and promotional budget by about 20% to almost a quarter of turnover in the year to March 31 in a bid to drive sales growth of its three key malt brands - Glenmorangie, Ardbeg and Glen Moray.
The campaign helped sales of its flagship brand Glenmorangie rise by 18% over the key festive period and analysts expect full year profits to be as high as £9.4m, an increase of more than 13% on the previous year. Last year sales rose from £52.2m to £58.7m.
Shares in the Broxburn-based distiller edged up 5% last week ahead of Tuesday’s results announcement. The shares have almost doubled since 2000 when they traded at less than 400p.
The growth in Glenmorangie sales over Christmas continued a trend seen earlier in the year helped by new television advertising. For the first time the company also ran an advertising campaign in Scottish cinemas.
‘Investors are keen to see progress from Drambuie supply chain partnership’
Alan Gray, a whisky analyst at Sutherlands in Edinburgh, said he expects profits to come in at about £9m.
"All the single malts brands are going pretty well. Glenmorangie had a very good Christmas and sales of Ardbeg are growing fast albeit from a relatively small level," he said.
House broker Bell Lawrie White in Glasgow has pencilled in pre-tax profits of £8.7m, while HSBC believes they will come in as high as £9.39m.
Investors will be keen to see progress from the first full year of the company’s supply chain partnership with Drambuie, which is expected to contribute about £700,000. Whisky sales generally showed strong growth last Christmas, although discounting by the multiple grocers led to fierce competition among blended brands.
Last month Glenmorangie won a battle over its famous advertising slogan.
Advertising watchdogs rejected a complaint disputing the accuracy of the Broxburn whisky company’s phrase, ‘Glenmorangie - Gaelic for Glen of Tranquillity’, which it has used for almost 10 years.
A member of the public complained the phrase misrepresented the Gaelic language because it was not an accurate translation but the Advertising Standards Authority accepted Glenmorangie’s explanation that there were different interpretations of Gaelic words.
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
13 May
2003
Honouring the true spirit of Scots writing
THE influence of whisky in Scots literature is to be celebrated in a city writing festival.
The Festival of Scottish Writing will feature a talk on the water of life and its role in shaping Scots poetry, prose and music. The talk will be given by Edinburgh author Robin Laing, who recently compiled a book about the subject after he noticed the national drink was mentioned throughout work by great Scottish writers.
Robert Louis Stevenson and Robert Burns are among the famous authors who he claims were inspired by whisky to pen some of their best lines.
The writing festival, being held from this Saturday until the end of the month, is a celebration of Scottish storytelling and creative writing.
Councillor Ricky Henderson, Edinburgh City Council executive member for sport, culture and leisure, said: "This is an ideal way of promoting Scotland’s rich literary heritage and encouraging new readers to discover the ways Scotland and its culture is reflected through books."
The festival also features Malt-teasers - a Scottish Quiz with history expert John Bailey. Other events include walks through the Edinburgh of famous city authors. There will also be workshops, poetry readings and musical events.
And children will get a chance to meet authors such as Edinburgh’s Aileen Paterson, who wrote the Maisie the Cat stories, while teenagers will have an opportunity to tell their own story through photography workshops.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
12 May
2003
Classic cars take to the 1,000-mile whisky trail
CLASSIC car enthusiasts gathered in Leith yesterday to see an array of antique automobiles from around the world.
The vintage cars were undergoing last-minute checks before setting off on a spring tour of Scotland’s most famous distilleries.
More than 100 cars will take part in a thousand-mile rally through the Scottish countryside.
The Scottish Malts Reliability Trial and Classic Car Tour rolls into action this morning from Edinburgh Castle.
The vintage and cars include highly valuable Maserati, Bentley, Lagonda and Austin Healey models.
As well as taking in some of Scotland’s finest scenery, the motorists will have the chance to stop at distilleries such as Glenmorangie, Dalmore, The Macallan and the museum distillery of Dallas Dhu.
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
12 May
2003
New start for Glencadam
AN ENGLISH company is to reopen the disused Glencadam Distillery in Brechin, creating up to 50 jobs.
The London-based family company, Angus Dundee Distillers, has bought the redundant plant, which shut down three years ago.
The company intends to start distilling whisky immediately, after successfully concluding negotiations with the previous owner, Allied Distillers, last week.
Preparatory work to get the distillery up and running will bring further employment opportunities to the area.
Terrance Hillman, chairman of Angus Dundee Distillers, revealed that the distillery will be reopened as soon as possible.
He said: "We will reopen Glencadam as soon as necessary work to start the distillation is complete.
"We will create employment in the distillery, as well as work to bring the distillery back to production and complete its refurbishment."
He added: "We look forward to becoming part of the local community and feel sure we will enjoy its cooperation with our project."
Angus councillor, Joy Mowatt added: "There have been strong rumours over the past few weeks but now it’s confirmed, I am highly delighted and look forward to Glencadam opening and functioning again.
"Hopefully, it can be used as a visitor attraction."
The original distillery at Glencadam was founded in 1825 and bought in 1827 by David Scott. In 1891 it was sold on to Gilmour Thompson & Co (Glasgow Blenders), and in 1954 was acquired by Hiram Walkers & Sons (subsequently Allied Domecq).
It was renovated in 1954 and was mothballed in 2000 by Allied Distillers because of over-production. The distillery was known for its 15-year-old Glencadam and was used in the Stewart’s Cream of the Barley blend.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
11 May
2003
Whisky giant orders double Glengoyne as malt moves spiritual home
DRINKS producer Ian Macleod aims to secure a place in the world’s top 10 malt whisky brands by doubling production at its recently acquired Glengoyne distillery.
Macleod, headed by Leonard Russell, bought the distillery near Milngavie from Edrington, producer of The Famous Grouse, last month.
The company plans to use its worldwide distribution network to push Glengoyne in markets such as continental Europe, the Far East and the Persian Gulf.
Under Edrington, Glengoyne won awards but the Glasgow company invested more in its key brands such as Grouse and Cutty Sark.
Macleod plans to increase production from about 500,000 litres a year to just under one million litres or 5,600 casks over the next few years. More malt spirit could be used in Macleod’s blends, which include Langs Supreme, also acquired from Edrington. Macleod also makes the Isle of Skye blend, which is particularly popular in the Highlands, and King Robert II, the market leader in the Gulf states where advertising is banned.
Russell said: "Glengoyne is currently working at just about half capacity at the moment. We will take it up almost to full capacity. Glengoyne will be in the top 10 within the next few years."
The brand is the 15th most popular malt, well behind global favourites such as William Grant’s Glenfiddich and Chivas Brothers’ Glenlivet. Malt whisky is gaining in popularity but currently makes up just 5% of the global market for Scotch.
‘The brand will be in the world’s top ten within the next few years’
Glengoyne is likely to be marketed on the fact that it is produced using traditional rather than ultra-modern equipment.
Before acquiring Glengoyne, Broxburn-based Macleod bought, blended and sold whisky from malt and grain whisky producers but had no distillery of its own.
Russell said the new facility would give the company a "spiritual home" as well as providing whisky which could be exchanged with other producers.
Rupert Patrick, the export director for Macleod, said Glengoyne and Langs could add up to 50% to the company’s current £15m turnover over the next few years.
Sales of Langs peaked at 250,000 casks but are now as low as 40,000, with Scandinavia, Japan and the UK off-trade the main markets.
Patrick said the faded brand could reinvigorated through Macleod’s international distribution network.
Macleod recently started testing the market for "Six Isles", a combination of malts from all six whisky-producing islands in Scotland.
The company claims its good relations with the rest of the industry make it the only producer capable of making such a product.
The Macleod group is controlled by managing director Russell’s family and is also the UK distributor for Glenfarclas malt whisky and joint owner of Broxburn Bottlers with J&G Grant, Glenfarclas’s producer.
It also makes own-label whisky for Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Oddbins.
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
08 May
2003
Bruichladdich - The first Islay bottled whisky
Bruichladdich Islay Single Malt Whisky is now being bottled at the Distillery in the new bottling hall, which has been constructed - mainly by the Distillery lads themselves - with help from the local community, led by Distillery Manager, Duncan McGillivray. The ten-month project involved converting a former warehouse to include offices and facilities for disabled workers and visitors.
Bruichladdich’s Master Distiller and Production Director, Jim McEwan explains, ‘This is
an historic moment for both whisky and workers on Islay. We have been exporting whisky for over 200 years in casks, destined for bottling plants on the Scottish mainland. As the casks were exported, so were potential jobs now, for the first time ever, an Islay whisky will be distilled, matured and bottled on the island.’
Sales Director, Andrew Gray, also stresses the importance of this development, saying ‘There is really only one place where an Islay whisky should be bottled and that is on Islay by the Ileachs themselves, using Islay's world-famous water. We are very proud to be the first and only Islay malt doing this. Bruichladdich is undoubtedly the most authentic Islay Malt available.’
The new hall, which will be known as The Harvey Hall, is to be officially opened by one of the Islay-based Shareholders, Sir John Mactaggart, on Sunday 25 May, as part of Bruichladdich’s festivities during the Islay Festival of Malt and Music.
Attending the ceremony will be Faith Muir from Canada, the grand-daughter of William Harvey, who built the Distillery in 1881. The first bottle to come off the bottling line (Bruichladdich 10 Year Old) has been signed and will be auctioned on the same day to raise money for local charities. A special gold roundel is being applied to the labels of the first runs of each age of Bruichladdich and Andrew Gray anticipates that these will quickly become collectors items.
Articles Courtesy of Bruichladdich
bruichladdich
08 May
2003
Pernod toasts 10.6% sales rise
PERNOD Ricard, the French drinks giant that owns whisky maker Chivas Brothers, beat forecasts for the first quarter with sales of its wines and spirits brands rising 10.6 per cent to 713 million (£507 million).
Sales of Chivas Regal, which fell 9.1 per cent last year to 2.8 million cases after reduced marketing activity, rose 26 per cent in the first quarter compared with the same period in 2002.
Drinks analyst Alan Gray, at Edinburgh stockbrokers Sutherland’s, said: "It is a good performance from Chivas, reflecting the renewed effort that Pernod is putting into the brand."
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
06 May
2003
Everest malt to go on sale
A LIMITED edition malt whisky to commemorate the first British woman to climb Mount Everest is to be bottled later this month. Rebecca Stephens was presented with a cask of new whisky spirit by the Glenmorangie Distillery when she achieved the feat ten years ago.
The matured spirit, named the Mount Everest Malt, is due to be hand-bottled by the 41-year-old London woman at the distillery in Tain on 19 May. Just over 400 bottles are expected to be sold for £50 each, with proceeds going to a Nepalese charity, The Himalayan Trust. Ms Stephens will also present bottles to the surviving members of the 1953 Everest expedition led by Sir Edmund Hillary.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
03 May
2003
£4.5M revamp for Forres Distillery
Allied Distillers have announced that it will invest £22.5m in its Scottish facilities over the next 18 months. The investment will include £4.5m on rebuilding its Glenburgie Distillery in Forres. £18m will also be invested in its Dunbarton operation, on installing new bottling lines and upgrading its packaging and despatch area. Allied’s managing director said the investment was good news for Scotland.
Articles Courtesy of The Press and Journal
pressandjournal
03 May
2003
Scots distiller in the red
Loch Lomond Distillery Company plunged into the red last year. The firm has repeatedly refused to speak to the press. It incurred pre-tax losses of £87,487 in the year to end-March 2002, against profits of £919,718 in the same period a year earlier. Turnover climbed to £11m from £9.3m a year ago. The firm has recorded tumbling profits for the last three years. Its previous accounts showed that it clocked up pre-tax profits of £1.4m in the year to March 31st 2001. Despite slumping profits, directors emoluments edged up £106,311 last year, compared with £102,899 a year ago. The company is one of Scotland’s independent distillers and produces Loch Lomond and Inch Murrin single malts as well as the blend Scots Earl. The firm also owns the wine merchant, William Morton and Glen Catrine Bonded Warehouse, which bottles 36.5m bottles of whisky, vodka, gin, rum and brandy annually.
Articles Courtesy of The Press and Journal
pressandjournal
24 Apr
2003
Independent Single Malt Whisky Bottlers Appoint New UK Distributor
Murray McDavid are delighted to announce that they have appointed Malcolm Cowen Ltd as their UK distributor. This complements Cowen’s existing responsibility for Bruichladdich Islay Single Malt, which is part of the same group.
Rupert Wilkins, Chairman of Malcolm Cowen Ltd, commented “We are looking forward to increasing both sales and distribution of Murray McDavid’s award-winning core range of un chill-filtered, caramel free single malts and also their recently released premium bottlings in the magnificent Mission range, which has already attracted considerable interest.”
Andrew Gray, Sales Director of Murray McDavid, added “It makes sense to have both Bruichladdich and the Murray McDavid ranges distributed throughout the UK by one specialist Company, who shares our philosophy and appreciates our commitment to making natural whisky as widely available as possible.”
Article Courtesy of Murray McDavid
murray-mcdavid.com
20 Apr
2003
Turks put wind in sales of Cutty Sark
EDRINGTON, the whisky distiller, has scored an unlikely success with rocketing sales of its Cutty Sark brand in Turkey.
The Glasgow company, which has disposed of four lower-profile products in the past two weeks, is pushing exports of its top brands, which also include Famous Grouse and The Macallan.
Cutty Sark’s profile in Istanbul has been raised by a sponsorship deal with one of the city’s top style bars.
A spokesman said: "The early signs are promising and we believe that Turkey is potentially a massive export market for UK spirits."
Local drinkers, described as "trendsetting male urbanites", tend to take their Scotch long and on the rocks without flavoured mixers. Most are aged 25-35 and drink in bars and clubs rather than at home.
Greece, Turkey’s neighbour, is the world’s highest consumer of whisky per head. The average Greek adult consumed more than four bottles in 2001, and Cutty Sark is one of the top brands. Turkey has a population of 65 million and attitudes to alcohol are relatively liberal compared with the rest of the Islamic world.
Ian Good, Edrington’s chairman and chief executive, said he was not aware of any Muslim country apart from Turkey with a similar thirst for whisky apart from Lebanon.
Langs, the blend sold last week by Edrington, increased sales fivefold in Lebanon in the late 1990s with a racy advertising campaign which would probably have fallen foul of the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority.
Edrington’s partner in Cutty Sark is Berry Bros and Rudd, the London drinks group.
The Glasgow company is testing a variation of the world-famous brand on the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico.
Cutty Coco, a blend of Scotch whisky, rum and coconut, has been on sale for the past four months, competing with Malibu and rum brands such as Bacardi. Good said: "Early indications are encouraging. Cutty Sark is seen as a young person’s drink in Puerto Rico, and this is developing that idea."
Last week, Edrington sold the Glengoyne distillery, the Glengoyne malt whisky brand and the Langs premium blend to Ian Macleod & Co, the Broxburn spirits firm. The week before, it sold the Bunnahabhainn Islay single malt and Black Bottle blend to Burn Stewart.
The disposals were part of the company’s strategy of focusing on its key brands - Cutty Sark, Famous Grouse, which is Scotland’s most popular whisky, and the Highland Park and Macallan malts.
Good, who is also chairman of the Scotch Whisky Association, said: "The group’s key strategic aim is to devote increased financial resources to those brands growing on the international stage."
One other Edrington malt, Tamdhu, could be sold if the company received the right offer. Edrington also owns half the North British grain whisky distillery in Edinburgh, the biggest in Scotland.
The company is keen to increase exports of the Famous Grouse, 65% of which is sold overseas compared with an industry average of 90%.
Grouse sells well in Sweden but is eclipsed by Cutty Sark in major international markets such as Spain and Portugal. But a new brand, Famous Grouse Vintage, has sold well in a number of markets including Taiwan. The drink, which has seen sales double in the past three years, is a premium-priced combination of malt whiskies.
Edrington has yet to release its results for the year to March, but the company’s export drive means turnover is likely to be up on the £200m recorded the year before.
Its export drive will be helped by a new £3m whisky bottling line at its Drumchapel headquarters, which is due to start running next month.
In Scotland, more people are visiting Edrington’s distilleries. The Glasgow group has invested £3m in distillery centres and the Famous Grouse Experience near Crieff over the past two years.
Lynne Grant, sales manager at the centre, said: "We are delighted with the response from the domestic market, which has seen us very busy at weekends during the start of the year - traditionally a quiet time.
"Over 25% of our visitors now come from Scotland and a younger, more family-orientated profile is emerging."
The Highland Park distillery in Kirkwall reopened to tourists last week following a £160,000 upgrade of its courtyard area.
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
12 Apr
2003
Distillery going green
DISTILLERY chiefs have agreed to paint a silver fence green after an 18-month protest from neighbours.
Residents of Addiwell, West Lothian, were horrified when the whisky bond erected a 7ft spike-tipped, steel fence without planning permission after expanding its premises.
The North British Distillery Company was told by planning officials to paint the fence green to blend in with the surroundings. The company applied to have the condition removed but backed down after residents complained.
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
09 Apr
2003
A cool shake-up for whisky
THOSE who are easily offended by incorrect pronunciations of "Glenmorangie" or by drinkers who add an ice-cube to a single-malt whisky, look away now.
Staff at The Famous Grouse at Perth are currently being educated about more cosmopolitan styles of serving Scotch - from "with a twist" to whisky cocktails or with Coke and ice. A leading bartender has been revealing his top whisky tips, including cocktails such as "grouse smashes", "sweet sensations" and "long hot summers". The trainees have also been learning serving techniques such as "layering" and "muddling".
"I have to say that our workforce took very little persuading to sign up for these courses," adds brands director Ken Grier.
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
07 Apr
2003
The Old Course Clubhouse whisky
Monday 7th April saw the worldwide launch of The Old Course Clubhouse, 12 year old Single Malt Whisky. It is the official whisky of St Andrews Old Course Clubhouse and it is bottled under licence by The Scotch Embassy Ltd. The Scotch Embassy have worked in partnership with St Andrews Links Trust. It was previously available only inside the Clubhouse in St Andrews and now the Clubhouse Malt will bring together two of Scotland's greatest gifts to the world - golf and malt whisky. St Andrews Links Trust is a charity set up by an act of Parliament to look after the golf courses of St Andrews. The Royalties from al sales of the Clubhouse Malt will help to maintain and preserve the famous Old Course, which is the most recognised icon of golf worldwide.
The whisky is unique in having been matured for 12 years in a cask that previously held wine made from the chenin blanc grape, an experiment in maturation that has been eminently successful, judging by the quality of the mature spirit. Its light gold colour is deceptive for this is a fully mature malt whisky. The nose is wondrously floral and lightly fruity. With the addition of a little spring water, it shows itself grassy and sweet-floral sweet rather than toffee sweet, which comes later. The taste is of aniseed and aromatic spices over a savoury base. The finish is long and dry. The Old Course Clubhouse Malt, 70cl, is presented in a distinctive gift box depicting famous holes of the Old Course, including the Road Hole (the 17th), the Tom Morris (18th) and the Bobby Jones (10th). It is aimed at the gift market and it has a recommended retail price of £32.00. It is the perfect choice for golf enthusiasts worldwide, the Clubhouse Malt is also available in 5cl miniatures, with a RRP of £4.70.
Article Courtesy of Scotchwhisky.net
Scotchwhisky.net
06 Apr
2003
Tranquillity returns to Glenmorangie as Gaelic name challenge fails
GLENMORANGIE has won a battle with a guardian of the Gaelic language over its famous advertising slogan.
Advertising watchdogs rejected a complaint disputing the accuracy of the Broxburn whisky company’s phrase, ‘Glenmorangie - Gaelic for Glen of Tranquillity’, which it has used for almost 10 years.
The complainant, identified only as a member of the public from Midlothian, said he understood Glenmorangie came from the Gaelic word ‘glen’ which meant valley, ‘mor’ which meant big, and ‘innse’ which meant water meadow. He said the company’s commercials were misleading because they misrepresented the Gaelic language.
But Glenmorangie refuted the claims and said it understood its name was an English corruption of the Gaelic ‘Gleann mor na sith’, which translated as ‘Big glen of peace’ or ‘Glen of tranquillity’. The company said it acknowledged the meaning of Glenmorangie depended on the "perceived root of the word" and there was academic argument over how various Scottish place names may have originated, but it believed the translation it had used was correct.
It also pointed out it had received no other complaints during the time the slogan had been used despite the malt whisky brand being well known to many Gaelic speakers.
The Advertising Standards Authority consulted another expert in the language who believed the complainant’s translation was correct. But although the ASA said it acknowledged the Midlothian man’s translation, it believed that because the company had taken care to research the origins of the name it had good reason to use it. .
Glenmorangie recently reported an 18% increase in sales during the Christmas period, helped by TV and cinema advertising campaigns. It will release full year results next month.
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
03 Apr
2003
Awards for The Peerless Collection
Success for Duncan Taylor & Co Ltd in the prestigious "Grampian Food & Drink Innovation Awards". The company received 2 Gold Awards for Product Innovation and Export Innovation for the Peerless Range of Single Malt and Single Grain Scotch Whiskies.
The judges stated that they were hugely impressed with the quality of the product, the innovative design and the marketing of the product.
The Peerless Range has also gone through to the final of the "Food from Scotland Excellence Awards 2003" hosted by Scottish Enterprise and The Royal and Highland Agricultural Society of Scotland.
Article Courtesy of DTC
duncantaylor.com
02 Apr
2003
Special Edition Hillwalking kit has Jura-bility
The makers of Isle of Jura Superstition malt whisky have created the ultimate in accessories for hill-walkers who enjoy life’s little luxuries.
The Jura Superstition Experience pack has been specially produced for whisky lovers with a thirst for the outdoor life. Taking up the Jura Experience will entitle you to a bottle of Superstition Malt, a hip flask and tot glasses as well as a traditional rugged rucksack to carry your favourite malt wherever you go.
For those who can’t make it to Isle of Jura, Scotland’s remotest distillery, to soak up the atmosphere, the pack also includes Jura sea stones, peat from the island, a book about Jura and information signed by distillery manager, Mickey Heads. The pack is available exclusively on-line at www.isleofjura.com and retails at £95 (excl VAT).
From the great outdoors to the warmth of an open fire, another of Kyndal’s distilleries The Dalmore (the makers of the most expensive whisky in the world) have also created the ideal after dinner experience with which to enjoy the Dalmore Experience.
The award-winning distillery has created the perfect gift set for an enjoyable evening to continue well into the night. With a specially written guide to The Dalmore single malt, Master Blender 2003 Richard Paterson, takes you on a journey through the look, aroma and the wonderful taste of this premium quality Highland malt.
Packaged in a willow hamper, the Dalmore Experience contains a bottle of The Dalmore 12 Years Old, a bottle of The Dalmore Cigar Malt, six crystal glasses, six coasters, an engraved water jug, fine Belgian chocolate, Columbian coffee and four Havana cigars.
The Dalmore Experience can only be purchased via The Dalmore Distillery web-site at www.thedalmore.com and is available now and retails at £185 (excl VAT)..
Article Courtesy of Kyndal
Kyndal.co.uk
26 Mar
2003
Export demand is led by malts
EXPORTS of Scotch whisky have broken the £2 billion barrier for the tenth successive year according to new figures released yesterday.
The figures published by the Scotch Whisky Association show that £2.3 billion worth of whisky was shipped to more than 200 countries in 2002.
Malt whisky continued to sell especially well - export volume increased 9.3 per cent to 46.5 million bottles with value growing 11 per cent to £268 million.
But "global economic difficulties" had an effect on blended whisky exports, which fell by 6.9 per cent to 943.4 million bottles.
SWA chairman Ian Good said the figures represented a "resilient performance in the face of tough global conditions". He said: "The industry continues to perform strongly in established markets like the USA, France and South Korea, but it is also encouraging to see increased volumes shipped to new, emerging markets such as China, Poland and Turkey."
Around 65,000 jobs across the UK depend on Scotch whisky production, of which 90 per cent is exported.
Asia’s growing love affair with whisky underpinned the figures, where sales surged 18 per cent in South Korea to £196 million and 16.5 per cent to £58 million in Taiwan.
The USA reclaimed top spot as the industry’s most valuable market, having been displaced by Spain in 1999, with exports rising 4 per cent to more than £300 million.
Jonathan Driver, malt whisky director at Diageo, said the malt whisky market had been growing steadily for the last ten years.
"Malt whisky consumption really took off around ’92, ’93, coinciding with the wine boom. Consumers began to become interested in the provenance of the product and malt whisky has a variety of flavours and different geographical areas that appeal to a new type of consumer."
Whisky analyst Alan Gray, of Sutherland’s stockbrokers in Edinburgh, said: "There has been a slight dip but there is nothing to get too concerned about, volumes are a bit disappointing but value is not too badly affected."
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
26 Mar
2003
CL targets more Scotch brands
CL FINANCIAL, the Trinidad-based conglomerate, is poised to make its first bolt-on acquisition in the Scotch whisky sector following its recent takeover of distiller Burn Stewart.
It is understood that CL is in negotiations to buy the Islay-based Bunnahabhain distillery and the Black Bottle brand for about £10 million from Edrington Group, Scotland’s biggest whisky producer.
The move forms part of CL’s plan to build a global drinks business after combining Burn Stewart with its ownership of Angostura, the rum and mixer company, and its 54 per cent stake in Todhunter, a US rum producer.
CL refused to comment on the latest deal although industry sources say talks between the company and Noble Grossart, Edrington’s financial adviser, are at an advanced stage.
Noble Grossart has been seeking buyers for Bunnahabhain, Black Bottle and for Edrington’s two other non-core businesses - the Glengoyne distillery and the Langs Supreme brand - following the group’s decision to concentrate resources behind The Famous Grouse, Cutty Sark and the MaCallan and Highland Park malts.
Edrington was hoping to raise between £20 million and £30 million for all four non-core businesses and it is known that Noble Grossart rebuffed a bid from an undisclosed suitor for the portfolio late last year just as CL completed its £49 million takeover of Burn Stewart, whose brands include Scottish Leader.
One analyst said: "CL doesn’t have a brand that is capable of developing internationally. Scottish Leader is selling reasonably but it’s not a top quality brand whereas Black Bottle has the pedigree."
Edrington is also thought to have generated interest from potential buyers in Glengoyne and Langs Supreme as a separate package. A spokesman refused to confirm the latest developments.
Analysts are expecting the privately-owned Edrington to show an improved performance for its March year-end after announcing pre-tax profits of £49.5 million on £201 million of sales last year. Both Bunnahabhain and Black Bottle are said to be profitable businesses.
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
23 Mar
2003
Glenfiddich Whisky is voted the World's Finest
The independent, family owned whisky brand, Glenfiddich, has voted the world's finest single malt by an international panel of experts. Last week Glenfiddich Rare Collection 40 year old picked up a gold medal and was announced as the top malt in a blind tasting exercise conducted by the Whisky Magazine in Edinburgh, Kentucky and Tokyo. It was up against the 39 best whiskies tasted by the magazine over the past two years. Glenfiddich Rare Collection 40 year old contains some of the oldest and rarest Glenfiddich in existence. It retails at £1000 a bottle but as there are only 600 bottles, the award is sure to add to its desirability with enthusiasts and collectors. The 'world's top malt' title is just the latest in a series of accolades for Glenfiddich whiskies including an unprecedented 15 medals at the two leading international spirits competitions held in 2002, where Glenfiddich Ancient Reserve 18 years old picked up silver medals and Glenfiddich Special Reserve 12 year old and Solera Reserve 15 year old both collected bronze.
Article Courtesy of The Sunday Times
timesonline
20 Mar
2003
Pernod seeks buyers for mothballed distilleries
PERNOD Ricard, the French drinks giant that owns whisky maker Chivas Brothers, will listen to offers for any of the four Highland distilleries that it mothballed last autumn.
George Nectoux, chairman and chief executive of Paisley-based Chivas, said the group had received approaches for individual distilleries, but they had fallen short of expectations. He added that a sale could be concluded "if the price was convenient" but emphasised that no talks were active.
The group, which is the world’s third largest spirits company after Diageo and Allied Domecq, yesterday reported a 15 per cent rise in 2002 net profit to 413 million (£280 million), buoyed by the brands it acquired from Seagram at the end of 2001.
But Pierre Pringuet, joint managing director of Pernod Ricard, declined to give guidance on this year’s performance because of the uncertain geo-political situation. He said it was too soon to assess whether a US boycott of French goods, sparked by president Jacques Chirac’s opposition to war against Iraq, would hit sales.
"To date, we haven’t seen any clear signs of a boycott of our products," he said, adding that a downturn in retail sales of Martell cognac or Chivas Regal premium blended whisky would take time to affect orders the company received from wholesalers.
Sales of Chivas Regal fell 9.1 per cent last year to 2.8 million cases after reduced marketing activity following its acquisition, destocking problems and a reduced sale in Latin America hit the first-half performance.
The Speyside distilleries closed by the group are Allt A’Bhainne, Braeval - formerly known as Braes of Glenlivet - Benriach and Caperdonich.
They all supply Scotch for the group’s blends and were closed last October so that the company could focus resources on its key malts, such as the Glenlivet.
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
19 Mar
2003
Whisky Hijack
The hijacking of a whisky lorry, is being investigated by detectives, who are also planning roadside checks in the hope of jogging the memories of motorists, who may have witnessed the crime. The 43 year old lorry driver was held hostage for around nine hours, after he was kidnapped near Lockerbie on Wednesday of last week. The ordeal ended when he was released 300 miles away near Worcester. The cab and empty trailer were later found in Humberside.
Article Courtesy of Press & Journal
thisisnorthscotland
19 Mar
2003
A dram fine shop
A WHISKY shop in the Capital has been named the industry’s favourite retailer.
Royal Mile Whiskies, which last year opened a branch in London, won the Whisky Academy Award for Retailer of the Year.
The Edinburgh-based business was nominated by industry experts before being chosen as winner by a panel of judges .
Dominic Roskrow, editor of competition organiser Whisky Magazine, said: " Royal Mile Whiskies does an incredible job. They will find a whisky to suit everyone."
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
18 Mar
2003
Bid to talk up Scots culture
SCOTLAND is the subject of a series of lectures at a cultural festival in Washington DC starting this month.
The 50 lectures, which will include such subjects as Scottish history and whisky, will coincide with the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in the United States capital in June and July.
The lecture programme, which features a talk by city-based crime author Ian Rankin, will run until June. Tourism bosses hope the lectures will stimulate interest in Scotland and boost visitor numbers.
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
12 Mar
2003
On this day
1941: The original incident used in Compton Mackenzie’s Whisky Galore occurred in the Hebrides when a cargo ship ran aground with her holds full of whisky. Islanders hid the quarter of a million bottles from Customs officers.
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
For the full Whisky Galore story please visit www.thewhiskygalore.com/legend.htm
scotsman.com
08 Mar
2003
Warning over bogus whisky
THE Food Standards Agency has warned fake bottles of Johnnie Walker Black Label whisky contain "unacceptable levels" of methanol, which can cause stomach upsets and blindness. Counterfeit bottles were found this week in a raid on a Berkshire bottling plant.
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
02 Mar
2003
There are no rights and wrongs for whisky
IN THE cold far north of Europe. you won’t find any vineyards; in their place there are fields of barley. Acres of golden promise. For centuries, wine was a dream of indolence and the drink of the warm south. Here in the north there was a need for something stronger, something to keep us going through the freezing gloom of the long, dark Scottish winter - not to mention the disappointment of the Scottish summer. This vivifying spirit has had different names across the centuries. In Latin it is aqua vitae, in Gaelic it is uisge beatha and, to you and me, it’s whisky.
I don’t like to spoil the romantic illusion you get when you close your eyes and think of Scotland, but, to tell the truth, there isn’t as much barley grown here as there used to be. This is because the price has gone through the floor and a lot of Scotch whisky is now made from barley grown in Ukraine.
There are as many myths about whisky-making in Scotland as there are about the Loch Ness monster. And that’s an excellent thing. It’s all part of the noble whisky marketing tradition. click for full story
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
27 Feb
2003
Whyte and Mackay boosts market share
WHYTE and Mackay is claiming its largest ever share of the Scottish take-home market for blended whisky.
New AC Nielsen figures show it achieved a 16.7 per cent volume share of the market, making it the number one in that particular sector.
The Glasgow-based firm, which employs more than 700 staff, attributed the rise in share - worth about £20 million - to an on going multi-million pound investment in the famous brand.
David Pattison, international marketing manager, said: "Our performance is impressive when you consider the aggressive price promotions currently in the marketplace.
"The improved performance can be attributed to a strong integrated marketing campaign which capitalises on the brand’s strengths and targets existing whisky drinkers."
W&M, which considers Japan and Canada as its most important global markets and is the sixth largest selling whisky in the UK, is owned and produced by Kyndal, which also owns single malts Isle of Jura and Dalmore.
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
23 Feb
2003
How the water of life saw Thatcher through
DURING her long years as Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher’s relationship with Scotland was tempestuous at best. But a new TV series on her private life will reveal that her affection for whisky – Scotland’s greatest export – was nothing short of an enduring love affair.
The documentary series, to be screened on ITV next month, will show that Thatcher’s fondness for Bells whisky kept her going during the darkest and most difficult times of her career.
Cynthia Crawford, personal assistant to Margaret Thatcher throughout her premiership from 1979 to 1990, will claim on the programme that Thatcher would sometimes drink whisky through the night rather than go to bed.
One such occasion was at a summit in Paris, when Thatcher learned the results of the first-round ballot for the Tory leadership battle, which eventually ended her days in power.
At the height of the Falklands Crisis in 1982, Thatcher, who was brought up as a teetotaller, would sit on the floor of her office drinking Bells and soda.
The programme will also provide an insight into why Thatcher needed so little sleep. According to Crawford the Prime Minister received injections of energising vitamin B12 – administered into her bottom – to provide additional energy. B12 is known to boost nerve and blood cells and is obtained naturally from fish, milk and eggs. One shot of the vitamin was delivered to the PM’s rear on the morning she told her Cabinet she was to resign.
By coincidence, vitamin B12 was discovered by Dorothy Hodgkin, the scientist who taught Thatcher during her years at Oxford.
The documentary will also show details of Thatcher’s religious side, a legacy of her strict upbringing. Crawford will tell the viewing nation how Thatcher instructed her to pray after they were taken to Lewes police station following the Brighton bombing in 1984.
The documentary series, made by Brook Lapping, starts on March 6. Brenda Maddox, who had written a biography of Thatcher to accompany the programme, credits Dennis Thatcher with liberating his wife from her repressive background.
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
22 Feb
2003
MSP calls for censure of US 'Cuban' whisky ban
LEFT-WING Labour backbencher John McAllion is asking fellow MSPs to condemn an American ban on imports of a Scotch whisky that has a connection with Cuba.
Bottles of Glenfiddich Havana Reserve single malt cannot be exported to the United States under a strict 40-year-old ban on all trade involving Fidel Castro’s communist island. But the 21-year-old malt, £60 a bottle, is distilled at Dufftown in the Highlands, 4000 miles from Cuba.
And its only connection with Cuba is that it is finished for up to eight months using barrels which previously contained Cuban rum.
Distiller William Grant has said any "taint" is so small it is immeasurable.
Mr McAllion has tabled a motion in the Scottish Parliament condemning the ban and arguing it highlights "the absurdity and iniquity of the oppressive Helms Burton Act that seeks to punish any contact or trade with Cuba".
And he also calls for Scotland to forge closer links with Cuba through trade, tourism and ties of friendship. Meanwhile, Americans wanting to sample the malt must travel to Canada.
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
21 Feb
2003
Skakel nips in for Bell's deal
SKAKEL & Skakel, the Edinburgh-based design consultancy, has won a contract worth £2750,000 to create a new visitor facility at the Bell’s whisky distillery in Blair Atholl.
The project, won following a two-way pitch, aims to emphasis the "craftsmanship and integrity of the product", according to the agency’s managing director, Richard Skakel.
He said: "Whisky tourism is increasingly a key component of visits to Scotland, and this story brings together many colourful aspects of Scottish culture, from the Jacobite uprising to the pioneering development of an international brand."
Skakel & Skakel currently employs 15 staff in Edinburgh, with an annual turnover of around £2 million.
The Bell’s visitor centre project is due to be completed in a fast-track process within four months, Mr Skakel said, "unlike the blend, which takes eight years to mature".
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
21 Feb
2003
Sector rallies on Diageo's success
INVESTORS raised a glass to drinks giant Diageo yesterday as the Gordon’s gin and Smirnoff vodka maker said it expected to improve on a solid first-half performance. Indications that it is faring well despite tough trading conditions sent the shares up 24.5p, or 4.1 per cent, to 623.5p and cured hangovers at some of its rivals.
Allied Domecq, which owns Beefeater Gin and Ballantine’s whisky, tracked the advance, ending up 2.2 per cent at 287p. Two weeks ago it said it did not expect any growth in full-year profits, causing shares to slide.
Scottish & Newcastle also rallied as German brewer Holsten denied it would fall to a foreign takeover offer as rumours abounded that a key shareholder was close to selling his stake. The pair have a close relationship: Holsten brews Fosters for S&N in Germany, while the Edinburgh brewer sells Holsten in the UK under agreement.
A deal would plug a big gap for S&N, which has no beer production in Germany, but analysts were relieved that it would not get the chance to overpay. S&N shares, which have fallen by a quarter since the start of 2003, rose 5.5p. or 1.6 per cent, to 354.5p.
The FTSE 100 benchmark share index closed up 28.9 points, or 0.8 per cent, at 3,687.2 after upbeat results and reassuring outlooks from a clutch of Britain’s largest companies, although the shine was taken off the rally by more gloomy economic data.
The index touched a high of 3,724.7, but pulled back after an early retreat on Wall Street.
"We’ve had some reasonable numbers and statements from companies, with the odd one beating expectations but most in line, but against that the economic data still really isn’t encouraging," said Alex Scott, analyst at Seven Investment Management.
British retail sales fell at the sharpest pace in a year in January, while higher-than-expected US wholesale level inflation and a record US trade deficit heightened concern about the health of the world’s largest economy.
"The economics confirm that the broad trend is still sideways to downwards, the bear market is not over," Scott said.
Nevertheless, corporate results helped boost investors, led by building materials group Hanson which lifted 18p to 298p to top the Footsie risers board after its comments that business in Britain and Australia should be sufficient to offset weakness in its US operation.
Others on the up included Capita Group - ahead 6 per cent, or 12.5p at 227p - after the outsourcing company said pre-tax profits had risen by a third.
Reed Elsevier also performed well, gaining 12.5p to 443.5p. The publishing and information group said profits had risen during 2002 and a turnaround programme had progressed well.
Footsie gainers outnumbered fallers by three to two, with volume on all shares moderate at 2.3 billion shares.
Takeover target Six Continents gave a boost to the market today as shares gained another 4 per cent.
The rise came after former Pizza Express entrepreneur Hugh Osmond said he would be prepared to make a hostile bid for the leisure group if his planned offer was rebuffed.
Shares in the group closed up 25.5p at 615.5p, to value the firm at £5.3 billion.
The heavyweight oil and telecoms sectors lent support to the broad market advance, but banks edged lower led by Lloyds TSB after UBS Warburg moved its rating on the bank to "reduce" and slashed its price target to 330p from 480p. Lloyds lost 2.7 per cent to 394.25p. Barclays was off 2p at 380p and Abbey National eased 6.5p to 404.5p.
Also among the fallers was BAE Systems, which reversed early gains to slip 1.75p to 126.25p.
The defence group reported pre-tax losses for 2002 of £616 million caused by cost overruns on two projects totalling £750 million, although it also reported a 2.2 per cent rise in the annual dividend, which initially encouraged shares ahead.
Engineering group Invensys also continued to suffer after last week’s profits warning. Shares fell another 0.25p to 17.5p.
Broadcaster Granada lost 3.7 per cent and its proposed mid-cap merger partner Carlton fell 4.8 per cent after Morgan Stanley cut its price target and earnings forecasts on both stocks. Outside the Footsie, furniture group Courts fell almost 7 per cent - off 13p at 183.5p - after it said that signs of a recent trading revival had come too late to rescue full-year sales figures.
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
20 Feb
2003
Diageo raises a glass to profits of £1.29bn
DIAGEO, the drinks giant which sells Johnnie Walker whisky and Guinness beer, cheered investors today with a decent first-half performance and predictions of a better show in the second half.
The world’s biggest spirits group said profits before tax, goodwill and exceptional items had risen to more than £1.29 billion in the six months to December, compared to £1.23bn the year before as strong trading in the UK and North America offset weakness in Latin America and other parts of Europe.
It said it was confident of a stronger performance in the second half despite a tough trading environment, though finance director Nick Rose warned it may fall short of its ten per cent operating-profit growth target for the full year.
Analysts had expected pre-tax profits to come in at around £1.26bn.
The group, which also owns the Smirnoff vodka and Baileys Irish Cream labels, said turnover in the six months was £5.43bn, against a year before figure of £6.48bn which included a £1.46bn contribution from its former Pillsbury food arm.
But organic sales of premium brands rose just four per cent in the period under review, below the company’s medium-term target of eight-to-ten per cent growth.
Announcing the latest results, Diageo’s chief executive, Paul Walsh, remained upbeat in his outlook. He said: "We acknowledge that these are without doubt uncertain times. However, in the absence of any significant change to market trends we expect Diageo’s organic growth performance in the second half to improve against the first half," he told investors.
The drinks industry as a whole is having to face up to a tougher economic climate.
Allied Domecq, the world’s second biggest spirits group, sent shock waves across the sector recently when it warned profits would be flat in the year to August. Diageo, which was created following the merger of Grand Met and Guinness six years ago, has been forced to shed its non-core businesses.
At the end of last year, the group completed its transformation into a pure spirits company when it finalised the sale of its United States-based fast-food chain Burger King.
Commenting on current trading, Mr Walsh said: "Diageo has the scale, geographic reach and brands to face the current challenging environment with confidence."
Last October, Diageo warned that its organic sales target would be tough to hit, as stiff competition and higher taxes on ready-to-drink products such as Smirnoff Ice took their toll on demand for such drinks.
But it appears that the firm is still managing to find a ready market for something a little stronger.
During the first-half, Johnnie Walker Black Label and Red Label scotch brands both grew volume, up six per cent and five percent respectively, though sales of J&B declined, Diageo said.
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
19 Feb
2003
Megson quits Kyndal just 15 months after leading MBO
BRIAN Megson, chief executive of Glasgow whisky producer Kyndal, who led its £200 million management buy-out just 15 months ago, is leaving the firm.
In a brief statement, the company suggested Megson, 50, was "reviewing his options" and that he "wished to pursue other interests". Megson refused to offer any further explanation of what he is planning next.
Chairman Vivian Imerman denied that there was anything sinister in the decision, insisting it was reached mutually.
Megson said: "The group has achieved the targets set in its original business plan and has demonstrated a strong cash generation. This, together with the wealth of talented people within Kyndal, provide a solid base for its future development and I wish it much success."
Imerman, who will assume Megson’s role in the interim, added: "Brian has made a valuable contribution to Kyndal over the many years he has been with the business and we wish him well in the future."
He said the company was set to announce details of a securitisation of the business, and that Megson did not want to be involved in the refinancing process. "He has fulfilled his commitment and decided that he didn’t want to take the business a stage further," he said.
Headquartered in Glasgow and employing more than 750 in Scotland, Kyndal has a 9 per cent share of the worldwide Scotch whisky market with brands such as Whyte & Mackay, Dalmore and Isle of Jura.
It was formed in October 2001 as a result of the acquisition of the former Whyte & Mackay group from Jim Beam Brands (Greater Europe) in one of Scotland’s largest ever management buy-outs.
Kyndal owns and operates five malt distilleries, a grain distillery and bottling and packaging facilities in Scotland. In the year ended September 2002, it generated an operating profit of £20.6 million from sales of £157.2 million, representing 9.3 million cases of spirits.
Megson joined Whyte & Mackay as an accountant in 1981. He was appointed to the board in 1993, became finance director in 1996 and chief executive in 1999.
When the MBO was completed there had been no suggestion that he was looking to walk away from the business. He said at the time that the firm’s first priority was to bed down its core businesses, and added that he was also looking forward to acquiring other brands.
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
14 Feb
2003
Dewar's breaks five million barrier
DEWAR’S poured itself a dram of pre-tax profits as it saw total sales exceed five million cases for the first time in its history.
The distiller, which markets brands under the Dewar’s and William Lawson labels, saw an 18 per cent rise in pre-tax profits of £9.67 million, up from £7.96 million.
A spokesman for the Glasgow-based company said that despite adverse market conditions, increased distribution through Bacardi’s global sales network had helped boost sales 5 per cent for the year.
Sales revenue increased from £80.2 million to £84.2 million. Turnover was up £4 million to £84 million, helped by the new operations facility at Westhorn, which the distiller said had led to a reduction in unit costs.
Alan Gray, of Sutherland’s stockbrokers in Edinburgh, said that Dewar’s was benefiting from the expertise of Bacardi’s marketing division. "Dewar’s has been doing quite well under the Bacardi ownership, who have spent more money on advertising and marketing the product," he said.
Meanwhile sales in Dewar’s White Label, the blended brand, Dewar’s Ancestor, a 12-year-old deluxe, and five malt brands were strong, particularly in Europe where it has a large foothold in Spain, France and Greece.
Gray said that Europe and the US were still the primary markets for the whisky but thought that the company would focus on the UK market. He added: "Dewar’s have never had a big presence in Scotland, but I suspect they may turn their attention to the UK market in due course."
The Scotch whisky brand, together with Bombay Sapphire Gin, was bought by Bacardi from Diageo for more than £1.1 billion in March 1998.
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
13 Feb
2003
Challenges ahead as Gigha's residents get down to business
A Gigha tartan has been created by Johnstons’, and a batch of special edition Gigha whisky, bottled by Springbank distillery in Campbeltown, has been auctioned off for around £5,000.
IN THE shadows of Achamore Gardens, the perfectly manicured grounds on the Isle of Gigha created by former landowner Sir James Horlick, roams a golden pheasant.
According to legend, this startling and obsequious bird, whose feathers glint yellow and red as it stalks the walled gardens of Achamore, is the phoenix of Greek mythology. Fabled to have lived for 500 years, at the end of that time the phoenix was believed to burn itself to ashes before rising again, glorious in renewed beauty and immortality.
Were it not too neat or perhaps too twee an analogy, it would be fitting that such a bird inhabits Gigha, an island whose entire way of life has had to rise anew over the past 11 months.
Gigha might never have been reduced to ashes, but to Alan Hobbett, the island’s development manager and the man charged with turning it into a profit-making and valid enterprise, the challenge is just as monumental.
"It doesn’t stop with ownership," Hobbett says. "We’ve got to raise a substantial amount of money to invest in the local economy."
It is almost one year since the Isle of Gigha, population 107, was bought by the island’s residents for £4 million. It was arguably the most publicised community land buyout of all time, and certainly the most expensive. During those heady months leading up to 15 March 2002 - when the islanders famously declared a "a new dawn" had broken over Gigha - documentary crews, journalists and Wendy Alexander descended upon the island, demanding to know who was in charge, where the money was coming from and just how long the idyll would last.
Now the dust has well and truly settled. The initial elation felt over the buyout has long since dissipated and reality, along with some grim economic conditions, has set in.
Much has been written about whether a residents’ land buyout is a viable way forward for rural communities in Scotland. The answer could lie in the people heading the Isle of Gigha Heritage Trust, the charitable body that now runs the island.
The Trust’s board, which includes a fisherman, a head teacher and the ferry skipper , considers proposals for the improvement and advancement of Gigha. It is chaired by the charismatic and outspoken Willie McSporran, who has, in 60 odd years on the island, clearly gained the respect of its inhabitants.
"Towards the end there was tremendous support, but it wasn’t like that in the beginning," he says, settling into a chair in the lounge of the Gigha Hotel, the heartbeat of the island which comprises its largest tourist accommodation, its only bar, and, out back, Hobbett’s office.
Indeed, when the islanders first met to discuss the possibility of a buyout, only 14 people were in favour. Winning support for the scheme was a slow and grinding process of convincing, cajoling and community grit. "If there hadn’t been that support I wouldn’t have been so happy." he says. "It was a lot of work."
While the trust presides at the top of the Gigha tree, Hobbett, appointed by the trust following the buyout, is charged with a lot of the day-to-day management. He is, people will pull you aside to tell you, "brilliant". A number of representatives of Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), including Duncan Baird, one of its Scottish Land Fund Advisors, also spend time on the island. HIE has also made its own appointment to the trust’s board in Lorne MacLeod.
There is also a seperate trading company which takes responsibility for the hotel, self-catering cottages, an airstrip, and other functions regarded as trading activities.
It is an unusual system for running a community, and one that was brought into being only because of the equally unusual way that the buyout was funded.
Money for Gigha came from two sources. The primary tranche of £3.5 million was provided by the Scottish Land Fund, formed last year with £10 million from the New Opportunities Fund, itself an arm of the National Lottery. The balance was a £500,000 grant from HIE. Of the £3.5 million from the SLF, £2.5 million of it was a grant. The rest - £1 million - must be paid back within two years.
So far, the community has raised £115,000. There have been ceilidhs, a successful music festival, sponsored walks, sponsored rows, sponsored diets, sponsored haircuts. As Andy Oliver, a board member who along with his wife Viv runs the island post office, puts it: "We’re suffering from a little fund-raising fatigue."
A Gigha tartan has been created by Johnstons’, and a batch of special edition Gigha whisky, bottled by Springbank distillery in Campbeltown, has been auctioned off for around £5,000.
The serious money will come from the sale of Achamore House, the laird’s residence on the island, which has lain empty since the buyout last year. There has been interest from three separate buyers, and an offers over price of £600,000 is being advertised. "If we don’t reach a conclusion by the spring then the intention is to put it on the open market," says Hobbett.
"There’s no immediate hurry for the sale, we have till 15 March next year."
But while the islanders have a year’s more grace to pay back the debt, the day-to-day subsistence of the island is a more pressing issue, and one that has kept Hobbett, McSporran and the board awake many a night.
"We recognise that we’ve got to pay back £1 million, but we’ve got to raise substantially more." Hobbett says.
Housing is a huge and immediate problem. A recent survey showed that three quarters of the trust’s housing falls into the statutory definition "below tolerable". Most of the remaining properties are classified "in serious disrepair".
"The biggest inhibiting factor that we always come up against is housing." says Baird. "We simply have no houses."
This has been partly alleviated by Fyne Homes, which has bought land next to the hotel and will start work on eight houses in the spring. Further projects are in the works and plans for a construction company based on the island are also under consideration.
Outside the hotel, three patches of mud promise to become the island’s first craft units. Interest has been intense, and it is hoped they will be filled this summer, bringing in both revenue for the tenancy, and increased tourism and trade to the island. There is talk of a microbrewery, which could bring in serious potential revenue as well as allowing the "Gigha brand" to make its way on to shelves across the country.
Since the buyout, a number of SMEs have sprung up, including publisher Ardminish Press, run by Freddy Gillies (see panel). Neil Bannatyne and partner Maggie Chapman, who moved to the island not long after the buyout last year so that Bannatyne could take over his father’s croft, are attempting to set up a horticultural business.
They have planted a number of vegetables in a corner of their 24 acre plot, which they are hoping they will be able to sell locally. It is a brave initiative when one considers that the whole of Kintyre has its vegetables imported from Glasgow, none being grown locally.
Jim Alexander has gone a step further. He has come up with an idea that could, he says, revolutionise shallow-water mussel farming.
"A mussel farm would normally cost around £250,000 to set up," he says, "But I believe I’ve worked out a cheap process that could allow us to harvest shallow-water mussels for a fraction of that."
Alexander has had his idea approved by a number of experts, and is currently in the process of applying for both a patent and a grant, which would allow him to set up an experimental system.
If successful, the farm would allow the trust to produce cheap local mussels, and sell on the system to other small communities. Alexander himself will make no profit from the project. Most agree that before the buyout, such ventures would not have been possible.
Gillies is one of a number of islanders who have gone on three-day business start-up courses run by Argyll and Islands Enterprise (AIE), and a number have also obtained small start-up grants.
Both HIE and AIE remain intensely involved in the island’s development but such - dependence could be dangerous. An island that leans too much on the enterprise companies for both funds and management could end up simply swapping one type of landlord for another.
Perhaps partly for this reason, no stone has been left unturned when it has come to looking for increased revenue. Some of the island’s more traditional earners, such as farming, are being closely scrutinised for modernisation. "All the milk produced on the island is sold to First Milk every day, which comes with a tanker and visits the three farms." says Hobbett.
"But every day it leaves half empty, which poses the question of viability."
The trust is now advertising for tenants for Achamore farm, the "home farm" of the island. This would bring daily production on the island up to 1.8 million litres a year, and could lead the quartet of farms in a number of different directions.
"We could switch to beef," says Kenny Robison, the trust’s vice-chairman and one of the island’s three dairy farmers. "But it would mean increasing a herd of around 80 cows to around 120." This has its own problems, but at the same time, Robison says, it could offer more returns.
The current crisis in the fishing industry has not left Gigha unscathed either, and one of the cruellest twists of the buyout was that Gigha’s fish farm, which employs nine workers, is one of the chunks of land that Derek Holt, the previous landowner, refused to sell to the community. The annual rent paid by the fish farm company, AquaScot, to Holt, is substantial.
The fishermen on the island, including Archie MacAlister, whose wife Lorna is the head teacher at the island school and sits on the board, are realistic about their prospects. "I’ll stay in fishing as long as I can," he says. "But I’ve never known a year as bad as this one."
The fragility of such industries has forced Hobbett to turn to ever more inventive ways of raising funds. One of his most radical ideas is that of turning Gigha into a plc. It is a complex and ambitious concept, and, if it works, could lift Gigha out of its precarious financial situation and permanently into the black. It revolves around the idea of a separate entity - Gigha plc - in which both individuals and institutions can buy shares.
The idea also involves that most en vogue of island initiatives - renewable energy. A feasibility study has already been carried out on Gigha marking it down as a perfect place for a wind farm. Hobbett believes investors in Gigha plc could provide money for perhaps two wind turbines, which would then generate a good rate of return. The trust would benefit by leasing the land the turbines stand on to the plc. Another similar plan revolves around investment in a number of properties on the island.
Gigha is very much a work in progress. But treat it like a company, and suddenly, it starts to make sense. It went through a management buyout, funded by investment from a number of different bodies. It recruited a new manager, appointed a board that knows the business well, and started looking at diversification.
It is attending to areas that were ignored by the previous owner, such as housing, and is examining radical new projects like renewable energy. It is in the midst of selling off its most lucrative assets, and examining how it can maximise returns on such a sale. Its future now depends on the ability to operate like a private company that must respond to needs and react to economic conditions .
Gigha is a beautiful place. Dazzling white beaches jostle for space with aqua blue glistening waters. The island sits in the gulf stream, making the weather unseasonably warm for the time of year. Snow almost never falls here, and outside the Gigha hotel, a palm tree unfurls softly in the breeze.
It is an island where old traditions persist, where residents rarely lock their doors, keys are left in cars, and no-one can walk down the street without stopping to chat. Yet it is at the forefront of one of the most modern concepts of our time, that of community landownership, and it is using every trick in the book in order to make it viable.
Back at the hotel, the bar is filling up. Fishermen, fresh off the boats, exchange banter while locals mill around, trading stories of the day’s business, arranging council and board meetings, inquiring about the latest fundraising projects.
"People grasped the opportunity and took the risk to purchase the island." says Hobbett. "But everything takes time. The intention, the feasibility, the viability, securing the funds, getting in the investment. Executing all that will take time. But we’re getting there."
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
07 Feb
2003
Whisky body's duty cut plea
THE Scotch Whisky Association has called for the Treasury to cut spirits duty by four per cent in this year’s Budget to boost industry revenue .
Scotch is currently taxed at a rate of at least 1.5 times more than the same amount of alcohol served in beer and wine, according to the SWA.
Chairman Ian Good, who is also chief executive of distilling group Edrington, said: "Reducing tax discrimination against spirits would be a win-win situation."
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
05 Feb
2003
Study: Light drinking may cut stroke risk
CNN Studies have indicated that drinking alcohol in moderation can cut heart attack risks, and new research supports the theory that the same holds true for preventing strokes.
"Light to moderate alcohol consumption may be protective against ... stroke while heavy alcohol consumption increases the risk," said Kristi Reynolds, a doctoral student at Tulane University and co-author of the study, which is published in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association.
Tulane University researchers reviewed 35 studies from 1983 to 2002 and concluded that one to two drinks a day is associated with an almost 30 percent lower risk of stroke, the third leading cause of death in the United States.
But the findings don't mean the public should start an alcohol habit. The research also found that heavy drinkers increased their risk of stroke by more than 60 percent, canceling out any health benefits of alcohol.
"The implications of these findings should be examined cautiously," the study concluded. "Any advice regarding the consumption of alcohol should be tailored to the individual patient's risks and potential benefits."
While they agree there is some protection associated with moderate drinking, stroke experts said a cautious approach is best.
"There's no evidence not to drink in moderation, but we are not ready to be advocating this either," said Dr. Robert Adams, an official with the American Stroke Association and a professor at the Medical College of Georgia.
After analyzing the previous studies, the Tulane researchers found that someone who drank one to two drinks a day reduced their risk of ischemic stroke by 28 percent over alcohol abstainers.
Ischemic stroke occurs when a blood vessel to the brain is clogged, usually by a blood clot, and accounts for 80 percent of all strokes. Hemorrhagic strokes make up the rest, caused when a blood vessel in the brain bursts.
Drinkers of more than five drinks a day had a much greater risk of ischemic stroke -- about 69 percent greater compared with abstainers.
A drink is commonly defined as 12 ounces of beer or wine cooler, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits.
About 600,000 Americans have a stroke each year, with 160,000 deaths resulting, according to the American Stroke Association. It's also the leading cause of long-term disability in the nation.
Heavy drinking has been linked to an increased risk of stroke in numerous studies, but why moderate drinking might offer benefits is not fully known, Reynolds said. Theories have suggested that alcohol thins the blood and increases the amount of "good" cholesterol.
While research continues on the potential health benefits from moderate drinking, don't rely on alcohol to improve your health, officials said.
"If you really want to lower your risk for stroke, follow the mainstays," Adams advised. "These will go a long way in reducing your risks: Quit smoking, lower your cholesterol, start exercising and keep a healthy diet."
Article Courtesy of CNN
CNN.com
02 Feb
2003
Selling out
THE whisky industry needs to focus its thinking.
Marketeers from multinational companies have massive budgets, and millions are spent yearly on advertising and on public relations promoting individual brands. Very little, though, is spent on whisky education and on helping drinkers to appreciate the many differing characteristics of the various styles. This surely would be an initiative of great advantage to the future of the spirit, especially at a time when wine-drinking generations no longer regularly hand on whisky knowledge.
Try asking the marketeers to identify the taste differences between Bells, Johnny Walker or Famous Grouse, and the answers will merely be advertising slogans: "Our brand is cheaper"; "Buy two, get one free"; or "Our brand has the largest market share and so must be the best". Successful selling is all that they care about. Promoting expert knowledge and discrimination, they assert, is the job of the Scotch Whisky Association.
Unfortunately this does not work. The SWA is a generic body that helps in education and the promotion of whisky. However, as with so many generic bodies, the Scotch whisky producers pay towards its running, and many of their leading players sit on the committees that make the laws and policies. Each of these players is so afraid of unfavourable treatment of their brands that they refuse to allow the SWA to make judgments about individual whisky flavours or to differentiate between them unless they do the same for all the members’ whiskies. So many brands flood the market that such an enterprise would be completely unworkable. Thus the SWA is reduced to a mere marketing voice for the industry, rather than the preferable role of objective adviser.
The Scotch whisky industry would do well to look at the marketing ideas of the Australian wine industry over the last 20 years. Their effective, upfront campaigns concentrated on the taste and quality of the wines, rather than on promotion of a particular brand. The success is self-evident.
Soon, the marketeers must decide how to spend their huge budget. Let’s hope they decide to promote the actual tastes of whisky and thus give palate-pleasing satisfaction to the consumer. An ideal scenario would be where the drinker could go to a cocktail bar, where the mixologist would ask which flavour of whisky was preferred. He would then create a dram by blending several different whiskies together to achieve the drinker’s own bespoke spirit. Furthermore, if the whisky industry were really flexible, producers could label their whisky by the most dominant taste: heather, peat, red-fruits, honey, oak, sherry. Most of the independent bottlers and producers of blended whiskies have wide-ranging stocks of spirits that could easily cover all these flavours and many more.
Whisky producers in a shrinking market must rethink their strategies to regain the lost ground. If future drinkers were encouraged to appreciate the vast range of flavours and styles available, they might very well buy more whisky, not less. And then everyone is a winner.
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
31 Jan
2003
The man who's big in Japan
A RUGGED mountainous country surrounded by water, where the majority of the inhabitants live on the coast, and the ancient peoples of the land fought with swords, their native clothing comprising of long swathes of material wrapped around their bodies.
The description may bring up a vision of our own shores but, equally, it could be applied to Japan, or "the Scotland of the Far East", according to one Edinburgh small businessman.
Former psychology lecturer Tim Steward is particularly attached to Japan and has built a business specialising in Japanese website translation and design around his connections.
But the technology industry is not the only interest for Mr Steward. He also runs the Malt Masterclass, a corporate hospitality and training company, and was recently elected the new chairman of the Edinburgh branch of the Federation of Small Businesses.
He came to the Capital in 1968 to study for a PhD in psychology at Edinburgh University. In 1972 he became a member of staff, teaching and carrying out occasional consultancy work until 1990.
But then he quit and completed an MBA before moving to Stirling to study as part of the university’s Japanese programme.
Mr Steward says: "We did a three-year Japanese degree in about nine months and then we were sent to Japan for six months. The first three were spent in a university where we were taught by the ministry of international trade and industry - basically the ministry of economic warfare - who masterminded the rebirth of Japan after World War Two with military precision.
"We had training on how the country rebuilt itself from nothing and we worked in Japanese companies, living in company dormitories, commuting at 7am and having compulsory drinking sessions until midnight every night."
The plan was for British businessmen to gain experience of Japanese corporate life but there was one problem which was not envisaged.
"The idea was that when we came back to Britain, companies here would benefit from using people who had lived and worked in the Japanese environment," says Mr Steward.
"But the problem was we were in the 1990s by then and we came back just in time for the Japanese recession. The only thing to do was to go out and find a job for yourself."
Back in Edinburgh, Mr Steward embarked on a new business venture, setting up a company called Spidacom which specialised in web design. But it was he and his partners’ knowledge of the Far East which meant the company could attack a niche in the market.
He says: "In the beginning we were designing sites like everybody else. We aimed to produce websites for small businesses but then we realised the one skill we had which other companies didn’t - we had enough skills to start producing websites in Japanese.
"We tried to steer clear of using software which produced instant websites and would only work on some machines or some browsers, and we used Apple Macs as well as PCs because Macs produce Japanese texts better."
Mr Steward explains: "We used Internet Explorer, of course, but also Netscape, Opera and all sorts of weird and wonderful browsers to run across different computing platforms and browsers."
Spidacom also has experience in producing websites in Chinese and, "at a pinch", Korean. And it can produce brochures, business cards and other publications for firms wishing to enter the Far Eastern market.
But with the Japanese market in long-term recession, new business is not too forthcoming and Mr Steward candidly admits work is "fairly slack". Turnover is less than £100,000 but with only two full-time employees it is "ticking over and surviving" and there are some opportunities for expansion.
"We’re happy to do any languages," he says. "There are key markets such as France and Germany and companies who want to work in those markets need to embed French and German words in their websites or they are ignoring them - people always look for search engines in their own language first.
"We can’t do Cyrillic scripts yet but we have contact with someone who could supply Russian."
The second business set up by Mr Steward indulged another of his passions, whisky, and built on previous consultancy work he had been involved in for United Distillers when he worked as a brand ambassador in the Far East.
He says: "I was involved in training staff in duty-free shops how to sell whisky.
"If a Japanese businessman in a shop in Bali sees an exclusive brand of Scotch whisky and asks why it is so good, if the shop assistant can’t answer then she’s lost the sale.
"All the way round the Pacific Rim I trained staff to sell whisky as knowledgeably as a Scots whisky connoisseur." Mr Steward adds: "We do things like corporate hospitality providing structured whisky tastings for companies.
"Last week we were at Dalmahoy country club doing whisky tasting and team building exercises for 150 people from HBOS.
"In two weeks’ time we’ll be at the new St Andrews golf hotel with a small still we own.
"We have a licence to produce whisky so people can see it done in front of their eyes and we also do full-day training courses on why whisky tastes the way it does.
"We can also source casks from whisky companies. There are occasions like when Japanese companies reach a 25th anniversary and they want casks of 25-year-old whisky as exclusive gifts for their clients," Mr Steward added. His extensive experience in the small business sector made Mr Steward the ideal choice to lead the Edinburgh branch of the FSB after the sudden departure of Stefano Boni to Australia. With almost 1800 members in the Capital, this is no small undertaking.
Originally joining because of the networking possibilities, Mr Steward was secretary before agreeing to step up to the chairman’s role.
He says: "From my point of view the FSB gives a whole series of services invaluable to small businesses, probably the two most valuable for members being help with VAT inspections and inland revenue investigations which can tie up a lot of time, energy and pain.
"It can also point business in the right direction for alternative quotes for things such as insurance and can save money because of the strength of having a federation behind it."
And he is keen on the potential for small businesses to raise their horizons and move into exports.
"As Scottish companies we now have our own parliament should be thinking of the opportunities to sell in Italy, France, Germany and further afield in China, Korea and Japan," says Mr Steward.
"Pushing forward the Scottish economy will depend on small businesses seeing themselves as a dynamic force and selling abroad.
"Even companies such as shortbread makers making small exclusive brands can find a niche in Japan or Korea or Germany if they start to raise horizons and see themselves as export players".
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
21 Jan
2003
Liddell slams door on calls for whisky tax cut
WHISKY industry leaders have effectively been told there will be no cut in tax on spirits in the 2003 Budget.
The news was delivered yesterday by Secretary of State Helen Liddell, dashing the hopes once again of Scotland’s second biggest export industry, at a time when overall national exports have tumbled 25 per cent in the past year.
Liddell downplayed calls from the Scotch Whisky Association and Ian Good, executive chairman of Edrington, Scotland’s largest whisky company, to reduce duties on spirits to the same level as drinks such as beer and wine.
Her remarks came as she presented a new report from the SWA showing the importance of the whisky industry to the Scottish economy. More than 40,000 jobs are supported by whisky production, with more than £800 million in income generated annually.
The SWA calculates that equalising duty on spirits and wine would increase exports by £400 million, with volumes surging by 40 per cent.
In light of the new figures, Good repeated a long-held appeal by distillers for the Treasury to cut taxes on spirits. He called on Liddell to "do more for the industry," adding: "Where else in the world are indigenous companies with so much to offer taxed more heavily [than their competitors]? Please give us a level playing-field."
However, Liddell gave short shrift to those calls, as she stressed the "very big benefit" that Chancellor Gordon Brown has extended to the whisky industry by freezing duties on spirits during the past five years - narrowing the gap as taxes on beer and wine have risen.
Liddell added: "You have to remember that if the Chancellor does not raise income [somewhere], that means less money for hospitals and schools" - sentiments which suggested she has ruled out the duties on spirits being reduced in the April Budget.
In light of Liddell’s comments, members of the SWA said they will send a submission to Brown next week refuting the claims of the Secretary of State for Scotland.
In its annual report ahead of the Budget, the SWA will claim that a cut in tax on spirits would encourage sales - potentially boosting income for the Exchequer. Increased sales would also benefit the Scottish economy substantially at a time when the outlook is gloomy.
According to the SWA report, the whisky industry spreads almost £700 million over its supply base in Scotland, and more than £1 billion across the UK. Almost 10,000 Scots are directly employed in whisky production, including 7,000 in rural areas, with a further 30,000 working in related jobs.
More than 65,000 jobs are connected to the whisky industry across Britain, down from 71,000 when the last SWA report was conducted in 1992. Good said: "We are a prime example of a business cluster extending our benefit around the economy. The industry is committed to local suppliers, which is particularly important to rural communities where the economy can be fragile."
He is lobbying for duty on spirits to be reduced by 4 per cent per year until 2011 - sufficient to level the duty with other alcoholic drinks.
The whisky industry is the second biggest Scottish exporter after electronics, and sources a greater proportion of its inputs from Scottish producers than other industries.
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
21 Jan
2003
Whisky Galore relic snapped up
A relic from the ill-fated cargo ship which inspired the film Whisky Galore has fetched more than £1,500 at auction.
The SS Politician secured its place in Western Isles folklore when it ran aground in the Sound of Eriskay more than 60 years ago.
It provided a bonanza for islanders when they salvaged its cargo of whisky.
A whisky case panel from the vessel was expected to attract bids of up to £500 when it was auctioned in London on Tuesday.
However, a spokesman for auctioneer Bonhams said the lot had done "exceptionally well" to secure a bid of £1,528.
"Selling for three times the top estimate is a cause for celebration," he told BBC News Online Scotland.
"We are absolutely delighted but I am not surprised that someone wanted a permanent memento from one of the most embarrassing moments for the company, and one of the most memorable for the islanders."
A collection of marine paintings and memorabilia was sold on Tuesday by Harrison Line, the Liverpool shipping company which owned the Politician.
BBC documentary
This included the stencilled wooden panel from a Ballantine's Liqueur Whisky case, which is thought to have held a dozen bottles.
The panel was accompanied by a photograph of the vessel and a video of a 1982 BBC Scotland documentary about the stranding of the Politician.
The ship left Liverpool on 3 February 1941 bound for Kingston, Jamaica.
The ship ran aground on Eriskay
Its cargo included 22,000 cases of Scotch whisky.
However, the weather deteriorated as she steamed north in waters which were unlit because navigation marks had been turned off for wartime security.
At 0745 GMT the following day the Politician struck rocks on the northern side of the island of Eriskay.
While the marooned vessel awaited salvage local fishermen boarded the ship and found the crates of whisky.
Islanders swarmed aboard and removed the cargo in the dead of night.
Sent to jail
It is estimated that up to half the cases of whisky eventually found their way ashore - along with other items including silk, perfume, bicycles and toothpaste.
Nineteen islanders were eventually prosecuted for looting whisky and sent to jail for a month.
The tale provided inspiration for author Compton Mackenzie, who lived on nearby Barra.
The novel Whisky Galore, based on the event, was published in 1947 and turned into an Ealing comedy the following year.
Article Courtesy of BBC
BBC
20 Jan
2003
Winter cheer
PROOF at last, as if it were ever needed, that it must be winter.
In coldest Sweden, sales of spirits are rocketing. Boosted by high consumer spending and a thirst for the hard stuff, alcohol sales soared 8 per cent last year, the biggest rise since the 1950s.
And as the Swedes shiver their way through January and February, the figures are expected to keep on rising.
For a country with an alcohol consumption rate way below the European average, it is an interesting trend.
Swedes are a notoriously pious bunch when it comes to drinking, but a lowering in taxes, on wine at least, means that more of them are now seriously indulging in a snifter or two to keep out that winter chill.
In other Scandinavian countries, however, they’re going even further. In Norway, taxes on Scotch whisky were slashed by 9 per cent from 1 January this year.
Both Denmark and Finland are expected to follow suit in the near future, in the light of changes to EU legislation due to come into effect next year.
Sweden is now under pressure to cut its own taxes on alcohol. Since the new rules came into effect two weeks ago, Denmark has seen a flood of Swedes nipping over the border to stock up on cheaper booze.
The lengths some people will go to for a glass of Scotch...
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
15 Jan
2003
Bruichladdich - The Best for Burns Night
Bruichladdich Fifteen Year Old has been recommended by the leading US spirits journalist and connoisseur, Paul Pacult, as his four-star ideal single malt to drink for Burns night, celebrated on 25th January.
“At this regular midwinter ritual Burns is toasted as the feast begins and his poem “To a Haggis” is read. Bagpipes are mandatory, of course. Their plaintive wail sets the stage for the whisky tasting and dinner. The typical Burns night menu features traditional Scottish fare, like haggis, Scotch eggs, tatties and neeps (mashed potatoes and turnips), and venison, all washed down by drams of good whisky, like Bruichladdich Fifteen.”
“Sweet barley malt, oloroso sherry, heather and pineapple scents mingle perfectly with flavours of heather and light peat. Finishes warm, zesty and sweet.”
JimMcEwan Production Director at Bruichladdich and the current Distiller of the Year says:-
‘This is great news - not only is Bruichladdich the most popular malt on the island of Islay itself, it is now being recommended as a toast to Scotland’s Godfather of poetry and song, Robbie Burns. Wherever you live in the world and however you choose to celebrate Burns Night, be sure to do so with a dram like Bruichladdich and recapture the spirit of the great man himself.’
For details of stockists please contact Malcolm Cowen Ltd 020 8965 1937
or e-mail info@cowen.co.uk
Rupert Wilkins Mobile 07721 890 863
Press release from Bruichladdich
Bruichladdich
07 Jan
2003
Diageo accused in £50m US deal
DIAGEO, the world’s biggest spirits company with its production headquarters at the Gyle in Edinburgh, has been accused of unlawfully breaking a distribution deal with a rival distributor, National Wine & Spirits.
NWS had a deal with Seagram worth about £50 million a year in sales - but it has been dropped by Diageo in the United States’ Illinois market, which includes Chicago.
The distributor claims the switch breaks Illinois law and its existing Seagram agreement.
But Diageo said its selection process was "above board" in Illinois and the other 25 states in which consolidation had occurred.
The US spirits market is idiosyncratic in the way it protects a middle tier of distributors such as NWS and Judge & Dolph to act as a buffer between distillers and retailers - a legacy of 1920s prohibition.
Diageo, whose Smirnoff vodka and Johnny Walker labels dominate their respective markets, is reducing the number of distributors it deals with in the US in an attempt to market its brands more effectively.
Its joint purchase of the Seagram drinks business with Pernod Ricard gave it a clear size advantage over competitors - a gap it now wants to exploit.
Diageo’s distributor consolidation strategy - entitled Next Generation Growth - is similar to one that has been a success for Anheuser-Busch, the number one brewer in the US, and it is important to Diageo’s attempts to wring increased sales growth out of a mature industry.
Diageo this month named Judge & Dolph as the Illinois state distributor of a broad portfolio of its drinks, ranging from Smirnoff vodka to Captain Morgan rum.
James LaCrosse, chairman and chief executive of NWS, said: "We are obviously disappointed by the Diageo decision.
"However, we do not believe this action by Diageo to be lawful, and we look forward to resolving this with Diageo over the next several weeks and months."
Diageo raised expectations that it would have to pay off disgruntled distributors in a regulatory filing late last year. It said its attempts to consolidate distribution were likely to "continue to give rise to legal actions by some distributors and regulatory bodies at the state level".
Although it said litigation was not expected to be material to its overall business, it conceded that "some settlements will be negotiated".
No-one at NWS was available to comment further, however it confirmed it was told on January 3 that it was not chosen as the exclusive Diageo distributor for Illinois, and its current distribution rights in the state would end on February 3.
NWS said revenue for the affected Diageo brands in Illinois in the year to last November was £49 million, with about 500,000 Diageo cases shipped.
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
22 Dec
2003
Imerman likely to jump at WestLB's W&M stake
THE departure of Robin Saunders from WestLB this week is likely to hasten the company’s expected sale of its 30 per cent stake in Whyte & Mackay - and according to City sources, Vivian Imerman, W&M’s chairman and chief executive, is to be offered the shares.
Imerman already owns 60 per cent of the company, and WestLB’s stake is believed to be worth around £30 million.
A spokesman for the firm was reported yesterday as saying Imerman "would be prepared to buy the shares, if the price was right".
The remainder of the firm is owned by former managers and WestLB bankers who led the £200m management buyout of the distiller in 2001.
WestLB’s plans to sell its stake have been bubbling since August. Imerman, as chief shareholder, was always expected to be given preemptive rights, or first call, over West LB’s stake when it becomes available.
However, if he chooses to turn down the offer, it could clear a way for another investor to move in, which the South African would be keen to avoid.
The firm, which has 700 staff in Scotland and owns brands including The Dalmore and Isle of Jura as well as its flagship whisky, has been spending liberally this year on a high-profile marketing and advertising campaign.
Last month, it announced that sales had leapt in the four months to the end of August.
The company sold 20,000 cases south of the Border for £2.4m during the period, compared with just 3,500 cases for £447,000 last year, fuelled by a new distribution deal with the UK’s top five supermarkets.
Last week it secured a deal to distribute its Absolut Vodka in Indian duty-free outlets from next year.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
16 Dec
2003
Imerman rebuffs talk of W&M stake sale
VIVIAN Imerman, chief executive of Whyte & Mackay, last night played down suggestions that a large stake in the whisky distiller could change hands before Christmas.
Imerman, who has built his stake in the business up to 60 per cent, has pre-emption rights over German bank WestLB’s 30 per cent share.
The bank is said to be nearing an exit from both Whyte & Mackay and Odeon, the cinema chain. Imerman told The Scotsman: "This is without foundation at this stage. Nothing can happen without my knowledge and I am not aware of it."
The remaining 10 per cent of the shares are owned by the WestLB team who led the group’s initial buyout, headed by American financier Robin Saunders.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
14 Dec
2003
Cardhu scandal turns whisky industry sour
The current row highlights the need for a statutory body to oversee the whisky industry, argues Pip Hills
The people who run Scotch whisky like their secrets. While many distilleries are open to visitors, we rarely get a glimpse of the inner workings. That is until the last few weeks, with the Cardhu malt scandal.
Diageo, the giant drinks company which owns the brand, has been at odds with the rest of the industry over its intention to continue to market Cardhu as a pure malt instead of a single malt. There have been questions in parliament. A lot of heat has been generated, but not much light.
The law is not much use here. There is no regulatory authority for Scotch. There is the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), which swung into action last week when Gordon Brown, the chancellor, proposed to stamp whisky bottles to beat tax evasion, which could cost the industry £280m annually. But it is a trade body composed of volunteers from the whisky companies.
What can legally be called Scotch whisky is defined by a Royal Commission that reported in 1909, and by penalties that teetotaller Lloyd George imposed during the first world war to keep the workers sober. It’s time to have another go. Were the Scottish parliament to appoint a Royal Commission and give statutory authority to the SWA to regulate the industry, in accordance with sensible legislation, Scotland’s second industry would get the protection it needs from overweening multinational conglomerate drinks companies that care only about their short-term stock market valuations.
Take Diageo, for example. It started the whole kerfuffle by describing Cardhu as pure malt whereas previously it had been single malt (to ease its supply problem, the company mixed in whisky from other distilleries in Cardhu bottles).
Cue general outrage. Malt’s USP has always been that the whisky from each distillery is unique. The owners of, say, Chateau Lafite, do not sneakily mix a lot of other good wines and sell them in a Lafite bottle, changing only a single word on the label.
In the case of Cardhu, the SWA has made representations to Diageo but all it has wrung from the distiller is an offer to change the colour of the label and revert to an older spelling of the name, Cardow.
By selling non-Cardhu whisky in a Cardhu bottle, the owners of just about every non-Diageo distillery say the company is confusing consumers. Diageo says in its defence that it hasn’t described it as single malt, but as pure malt, which means something different. It does, if you are party to the arcane world of whisky nomenclature, but most folk could be forgiven for not seeing much difference.
Article Courtesy of The Times
The Times
13 Dec
2003
£210k funding for whisky industry workplace project
A Project to improve productivity and the working environment in the Scotch whisky industry is to get £210,000 of Government funding.
Employment Relations Minister Gerry Sutcliffe announced the award, from the Government's Partnership Fund, yesterday.
The three-year project was set up through a partnership between the GMB union, the Scotch Whisky Association and six leading UK whisky companies.
The aim is to improve safety, boost productivity, develop employee skills and involvement, reduce absenteeism and boost staff morale.
SWA chief executive Gavin Hewitt said: "One in 50 Scottish jobs depends on Scotch whisky and one of the industry's strengths, from the distillery to the bottling line, is its people. This initiative enhances skills and expertise across the industry."
Mr Sutcliffe said: "The Partnership Fund has an excellent track record in individual workplaces but this sectoral project is far bigger and more ambitious."
The whisky industry employs more than 10,000 workers in Scotland and supports the jobs of 65,000 people across the UK.
Article Courtesy of The Press & Journal
pressandjournal
12 Dec
2003
Bid to force Brown to drop whisky plan
Scottish Conservative enterprise spokesman Murdo Fraser lodged a motion at Holyrood yesterday aimed at forcing the chancellor to drop plans for tax stamps on whisky.
Gordon Brown suggested bringing in the stamps on all spirits as a way of clamping down on fraud in his pre-budget statement on Wednesday.
But the whisky industry fears it could cost up to £280million a year to impose, threatening jobs.
Mr Fraser's motion calls on the Scottish Parliament to press the executive to make representations to London. It states that parliament recognises that tax stamps would be ineffective in combating fraud, while imposing substantial costs and practical problems on the industry.
Article Courtesy of The Press & Journal
pressandjournal
11 Dec
2003
Whisky industry fears £300m cost of duty stamp could hit jobs
THE Scotch whisky industry reacted with dismay last night to proposals by Gordon Brown which could cost nearly £300 million a year.
It said a plan to “stamp” whisky bottles to prove that duty had been paid would be prohibitively expensive and would cost jobs.
There was also little positive reaction to the Chancellor’s pledge to freeze the level of duty on whisky until the end of this parliament – which could be as early as 2005.
Alex Salmond, the Scottish National Party leader at Westminster, said: “On whisky, the strip stamps that the Chancellor announced would mean that the industry faced an annual bill of up to £280 million – more than a tenth of yearly sales – which would lead to job losses.”
Angus Robertson, SNP MP for Moray, one of Scotland’s major whisky producing areas, said the new measures could lead to closure of some of the smaller distilleries.
He said: “Any initial outlay for companies to buy the necessary application machinery will run into millions of pounds. The stamps would also have to be paid up front, presenting a cash-flow nightmare for all concerned. The cost to the industry could drive some small producers out of business.”
Mr Robertson said the “daft and expensive” scheme was blocked by cross-party opposition and the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA)two years ago.
Instead,the SNP called for a cut in duty on whisky – which it claims damages the industry and is the underlying reason for illegal sales.
Mr Robertson added: “Sadly the London government continues to treat this key Scottish employer as a cash cow and is not even prepared to cut duty and end taxation discrimination.”
Gavin Hewitt, the chief executive of the SWA said alcohol fraud must be stopped, but claimed that there were better ways to deal with the problem than the proposed tax stamps.
The SWA also claimed the proposed strip stamps, which will be stuck on bottle tops or necks, do not stop fraud in other countries and can be forged.
Mr Hewitt said:“We will be working hard to convince the Treasury that tax stamps would be a backward step, damaging productivity and competitiveness and that alternative, more risk-based measures would be more effective.”
However, there was some good news for the Scottish Executive yesterday – its annual budget will increase by £47 million as a result of the proposals announced by Mr Brown.
The vast majority of that sum is due to the massive amount that the Chancellor earmarked to help ease the council tax crisis in England, where bills have soared as local authorities struggle to balance their books.
Jack McConnell, the First Minister, faces no such constrictions about what to do with the money due to be released when Mr Brown translates his pre-Budget report into the Budget next year. Local authorities in Scotland have their budgets set on a three-yearly basis under a deal which was brokered by Mr McConnell when he was the finance minister.
Mr Brown also announced that new companies entering the North Sea will receive enhanced tax relief on their oil exploration costs. But the industry said this was of marginal benefit, falling well short of its requests.
More positively, small firms with a turnover of up to £22 million will benefit from 40 per cent capital allowances – a higher threshold.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
07 Dec
2003
Distillers fear Brown will raise taxes on spirits
WHISKY distillers, fresh from their spat over the Cardhu affair, are bracing themselves for the possibility of the first increase in excise duties on spirits since Labour returned to power.
Some economists are speculating that Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, will be forced to increase the cost of beer, spirits and cigarettes as part of his attempt to close an estimated £10bn gap in the public finances.
In his pre-budget report on Wednesday, Brown is expected to announce that Britain is on track to meet his economic growth forecasts this year, downplaying the black hole.
But sceptics say he still has to cut spending or raise taxes to balance the books and could raise indirect taxes in next year’s budget. He has not increased duty on whisky since he moved into office in 1997. Distillers and brewers will watch closely on Wednesday for any hints.
Peter Spencer, chief economic adviser to Ernst & Young’s Item Club, said whisky distillers should be prepared for a rise at some stage. "He is scratching around for revenue. Whisky has been let off for so many years. Spirits are cheap compared with anything else," he said.
The whisky industry will switch attention to fighting its corner on tax after settling its row with Diageo. Industry sources told Scotland on Sunday that the spirits company was allowed to save face in last week’s agreement over Cardhu ‘pure malt’ whisky.
There was talk of a ‘deal within a deal’ before the official meeting of the Scotch Whisky Association on Thursday to ensure Diageo was not humiliated and was seen to be complying with a consensus view. It was announced that an industry-wide agreement had been reached to protect the integrity of malts by clarifying Scotch whisky categories.
But Tony Hunt, deputy group managing director of William Grant & Sons, later added distillers would do everything they could to comply with the rules, "retrospectively and going forward". One industry source said it meant last Thursday’s agreement could be reviewed, which might reopen the arguments.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
07 Dec
2003
Exporters hit by new US bio-terror rules
COMPANIES exporting food and drink to the US will be forced to disclose sensitive commercial information or be stopped from exporting entirely under anti-terrorism rules due to come into effect this week.
The US bio-terrorism act - designed to protect against poison attacks - could lead to tonnes of Scottish produce being impounded or destroyed. Scotland exports about £320m worth of produce to the US every year, supporting an estimated 5,500 jobs.
One company contacted by Scotland on Sunday said the volume of paperwork involved had led it to stop exporting to the US. Others were unaware of the new rules.
Under the act, food and drink producers must register their manufacturing sites and fill in an online form for every item of produce sent to the US from Saturday. The US Food and Drug Administration will issue a number, allowing the product to get through customs. Produce which does not carry a number or has been wrongly labelled could be destroyed.
‘For a specialist food retailer the paperwork is just a non-starter’
The new rules are designed to protect US citizens from poison attacks, but some food and drink producers believe it will create unnecessary red tape and could be damaging. A spokesman for the Scotch Whisky Association said: "We recognise the objectives, but the European alcoholic beverage industry has expressed reservations about how appropriate and proportionate the regulations are."
The SWA is worried producers may have to reveal secrets about each individual spirit that goes into blended whiskies and vatted malts. The US is the world’s biggest market for Scotch whisky. Distillers are also concerned that the ‘prior notification’ rules will overlap with existing customs forms to create unnecessary paperwork.
Although the legislation comes into force this week, whisky producers have until next spring to argue against full disclosure.
Scottish food exports to the US are worth around £20m per year, supporting roughly 500 jobs. Philip Contini, the managing director of Valvona & Crolla, the Edinburgh delicatessen, said the new rules had forced him to give up exporting to the US. He said: "We are just staying away from that completely. For a specialist food retailer the paperwork is just a non-starter."
Despite the hard line taken by the US, a number of food exporters were not aware of the new legislation. Jane Twelves, whose South Uist-based company, Salar, exports smoked salmon to the US by post, said she had not been informed.
The rules could create a glut of produce in Europe, reducing the amount farmers and food manufacturers can charge for their products. Scottish Enterprise said it was aware of the legislation but had not sent information to all Scotland’s food exporters. Around 20 companies attended an SE event in September which focused on US bio-terrorism regulations.
Wine merchants in the US have complained that the new rules mean it will be harder for them to import foreign products. The Royal Mail last week said it would not accept manufactured food or drink destined for the US without an FDA notification number from December 13.
The FDA said online export applications should take around 15 minutes per item.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
05 Dec
2003
Whisky sour as deal leaves a nippy taste
AN UNEASY calm has settled over the whisky industry. Yesterday, it was announced that an agreement had been reached in the dispute over Cardhu "pure malt".
Just hours earlier, a militant faction looked likely to force resignations from the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA). But the critics were placated and Diageo, owner of the Cardhu brand, had compromised. The executive of the SWA brokered a deal and a schism was avoided...
Click here for full story
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
04 Dec
2003
Whisky row showdown
TRADITION dictates that when the council of the Scotch Whisky Association dines on the eve of a meeting, a topic is chosen for discussion that is of relevant concern to the industry. As the SWA gathered in the Long Room of Edinburgh’s New Club last night, they talked about the retirement of Hugh Morison, its long-standing chief executive.
This morning, the 16-member council, including the chief executives of Diageo, Allied Domecq, Edrington Group and Glenmorangie, will get down to the real issue - resolving the issue of Diageo’s decision to label a blend of malt whiskies from five different Speyside distilleries as Cardhu Pure Malt.
It is a meeting analysts have billed as the most important the whisky industry has faced in a quarter of a century. It could also determine the future of the SWA, with some industry sources suggesting it could pursue legal action against Diageo in London and Europe.
The Scotsman has learned that the SWA will tell the industry that it should seek a compromise with Diageo, put the affair behind them and move forward. Diageo will come to the table with proposals it hopes will placate the industry - including a plan to change the colour of the label and cartons of Cardhu pure malt from brown to green and a pledge to carry out a strategic review of the brand early next year, maybe involving changing the shape of the bottle.
Diageo will pledge to undertake a major advertising campaign in Spain, explaining the changes to the consumer and will promise not to introduce Cardhu Pure Malt into the UK market for 12 months.
They will apologise to the industry but insist they are right in principle and will not withdraw the product.
Last night, one industry analyst said it could go one of three ways. He said: "The best scenario would be that the SWA reach an agreement with Diageo to withdraw the product. Failing that, the SWA could reach a deal where Diageo keep the product but promise a redesign of the bottle and the package. Thirdly there could be a situation where Diageo do not budge, a schism emerges and a few militant distillers pursue the course of legal action outside of the SWA."
One of the problems facing Gavin Hewitt, new chief executive of the SWA, when he sits round the table in Edinburgh today is that a handful of distillers are adamant that the only solution is for Diageo to withdraw the product. Others are willing to put the issue behind them.
Last night, a senior industry source, who has not spoken on this issue to the press until now, said he thought Diageo’s proposals didn’t go far enough and today’s meeting will be critical for the future of the SWA.
He said: "If we do not get an agreement and there is a schism in the industry, this could be the end of the SWA. There is a real concern that senior politicians will turn around and say that the whisky industry is supposed to be self-regulating and that we have to get our house in order."
Another insider said: "From a commercial standpoint, I sympathise with Diageo. This maybe is the wrong decision, but although Jonathan Driver may have made a mistake with Cardhu he has done a lot of good for malt whisky."
The SWA emphasised that there will be an extensive agenda, alongside discussions aimed at reaching a solution on Cardhu that is in the best interests of the whole industry.
A spokesperson said: "The meeting will also discuss next week’s Pre-Budget report, how best to tackle trade barriers abroad, the 2004 Budget, as well as a range of other important issues facing distillers."
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
03 Dec
2003
Malt-row distillers threaten EU action
INDEPENDENT distillers across Scotland are considering legal action in both Britain and Europe against industry giant Diageo in a dramatic escalation of the Cardhu malt whisky row.
The Scotsman has learned that a City law firm has advised a number of distillers that independent single-malt whisky producers may be able to take action against Diageo through a complaint to the European Union competition authorities in Brussels or to a national competition regulator such as the Office of Fair Trading in the UK.
The Scotsman has also learned that the Scottish Whisky Association (SWA) made it clear to Diageo that more concessions will be needed if they are to reach a compromise at a planned meeting on Thursday.
However, industry sources last night warned that a protracted legal battle could result in a schism within the Scotch whisky sector, which could harm the business in the long term. Diageo has angered the Scotch industry with its decision to sell Cardhu pure malt in the same style of bottle as the single malt and with the name of the Speyside single-malt distillery on the label. Distillers claim the decision could damage the industry and confuse drinkers into thinking Cardhu was still a single malt, rather than a blend.
The city law firm Norton Rose argues that Diageo represents a real threat to smaller, independent single-malt Scotch whisky producers and that in the long term this must be against the interests of consumers.
The legal advice, commissioned by some of Scotland’s leading distillers, says: "Diageo own more distilleries in Scotland than anyone else. Therefore, they are always likely to have a surplus of stock in several of them, which they can fill in the Cardhu bottle, even if they have no actual Cardhu single malt.
"This is a major economic advantage over smaller companies who are fighting to maintain the authenticity of the single malt category. The entire Scotch whisky industry is unanimous in its opposition to the move that Diageo has made, which is seen as being a threat to the global reputation of Scotch."
Last night, one industry source described the possibility of a legal move as "crazy". He said: "If lawyers get involved, positions get entrenched and a solution is harder to find. The threat of legal action could jeopardise a deal."
Diageo has made several concessions, including a pledge not to introduce Cardhu pure malt in any further markets until substantial changes to the packaging are introduced next spring.
A spokesman for the SWA said: "We are working to achieve a resolution at the meeting on Thursday and will be looking at a number of solutions."
Diageo refused to comment on the threat of legal action last night, saying it was "fed up" with leaks in the press and the proper forum for debate was through the SWA on Thursday.
The news comes just days after it emerged that the EC is set to investigate Diageo’s decision to turn its Cardhu single malt into a blend of five malts.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
30 Nov
2003
Whisky's reputation 'under threat'
A decision by drinks giant Diageo to change the composition of the famous Cardhu malt has caused waves of protest around the world.
Diageo's global brand director told BBC Scotland News Online that the implications of the move had been distorted and over-dramatised.
However, rival whisky maker William Grant & Sons, whose products include Glenfiddich and The Balvenie, claims the industry's reputation is being damaged.
Its deputy group managing director tells us why...
Click here for full story
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
30 Nov
2003
European probe launched into Diageo dispute
THE row engulfing the Scotch whisky industry has intensified even further, after it emerged that the European Commission is set to investigate Diageo’s decision to turn its Cardhu single malt into a blend of five different malts.
The EC will examine the matter after receiving a letter of objection to Diageo’s move from European Parliament president Pat Cox.
It will investigate whether Diageo’s decision to alter its Cardhu product without making noticeable changes to the whisky’s packaging constitutes an infringement of internal market or consumer protection regulations...
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Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
30 Nov
2003
Tourist drive brings malt out of mothballs
WHISKY from a distillery once mothballed will go on sale later this year as part of a plan to create a new tourist attraction in rural Perthshire.
A few thousand cases of Tullibardine whisky will be placed on the market over the next few months following a label and carton redesign by Wolffe & Co, the Edinburgh consultancy.
Tullibardine distillery, near Gleneagles, was sold by the drinks group Whyte & Mackay to a Scottish consortium earlier this year. Jim Beam Brands, Whyte & Mackay’s predecessor, stopped production at the site in 1994.
Doug Ross, one of Tullibardine’s directors, said sales of spirit distilled in 1993 would increase gradually over the next 10 years. It will be priced as a mid-market malt at around £23 a bottle.
Ross said: "Rather than have to find distributors, we plan to sell it through upmarket outlets such as quality hotels."
£10m visitor centre will provide distillery tours, shops and a restaurant
The new-look bottle should be in a limited number of shops and bars by Christmas. Michael Beamish, another director, said the previous packaging had looked "generic" and that the new label conveyed more individuality. Whisky made this year has to be aged for 10 years and so will not be available until 2013.
The company plans to produce about 100,000 litres a year, putting it on a level with smaller distilleries such as Edradour, which is also in Perthshire.
Customers will be able to pay up front for individual casks containing the equivalent of about 360 bottles.
Ross estimated a few hundred casks would be sold, generating about £160,000.
He said: "We have not been forced into doing this to survive. It is to meet demand from the public and aficionados. If you view [buying a cask] as an investment, it might not make sense, but people like the idea."
In the meantime, Tullibardine plans to generate cash by building a £10m tourism attraction and retail centre at the site, which is close to the busy A9 Stirling-to-Perth road.
The 50,000sq ft centre will provide distillery tours and a related exhibition, as well as a restaurant and retail centre including a Baxters food shop.
It aims to attract 250,000 customers a year. Plans are in the process of being drawn up by 442 Design, the Edinburgh agency.
Tullibardine is one of a number of small distilleries which have been reopened or built from scratch over the past 10 years, including Ladybank in Fife and Blackwood in Shetland.
The company is part of the industry majority which has criticised drinks group Diageo’s plan to sell a mixture of malt whiskies under the Cardhu brand name.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
29 Nov
2003
Whiskies galore
The story of how an old neglected Islay distillery was rescued and revived by a team of young private investors a couple of years ago is now familiar to whisky lovers. The new owners of Bruichladdich on the shores of Loch Indaal now call themselves the free spirits and "enfant terribles" of the whisky world. I’d call them today’s heroes; a high-spirited team of Davids fighting against a world of corporate Goliaths. The latest rash of "Laddie" bottlings are some of the best on the malt shelf today - ideal for celebrating St Andrew’s Day tomorrow...
Click here for full story
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
27 Nov
2003
Pure malt row sees Diageo frozen out
WHEN Diageo sits down next week with members of the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) to defend its decision to brand Cardhu as a "pure" rather than "single" malt, it will find itself completely isolated.
The Scotsman has learned that the executive of the SWA has told Diageo that it feels the only solution to the present crisis is for the world’s biggest drinks company to withdraw its controversial Cardhu Pure Malt product.
The Scotch whisky industry has been angered by Diageo’s decision to sell the whisky in the same style of bottle and with the name of its Speyside distillery on the label. Distillers claim the decision could damage the industry and confuse drinkers into thinking Cardhu was still a single malt, rather than a blend...
Click here for full story
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
26 Nov
2003
Whisky market
The whisky industry spends around £90 million a year with Scottish cereal suppliers, and uses about half of all the cereals grown in Scotland. The suggestion by ET Baxter (Letters, 22 November) that distillers have "halved the price they pay" for barley ignores the reality of movements in world prices, and the fact that growers’ contracts are generally with malting companies, not distillers.
The suggestion that a higher price paid by distillers for barley would cost the industry just a few pence a bottle ignores the highly competitive nature of the international drinks market in which whisky operates, and the fact that the majority of the retail price is tax, not money going to distillers.
Many distillers already buy all their barley from Scottish sources, and often do so while paying a premium to ensure continuity of supply under branded contracts. But, given the vagaries of the weather it is unrealistic to suggest that all barley used by the industry must be grown in Scotland.
The brandy industry’s reliance on French grapes in the late 1800s led to its demise when the crop failed, allowing whisky to flourish and become the global industry it is today.
No-one with the best interests of Scotland’s economy at heart will place the future of Scotland’s leading indigenous industry at the mercy of the Scottish climate.
CAMPBELL EVANS
Scotch Whisky Association
Atholl Crescent
Edinburgh
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
23 Nov
2003
Right spirit of self-censorship
ALLIED Domecq, the drinks company, has appointed advisers to vet its ads for those which may link alcohol with sexual success, or... irresponsible drinking.
The company, which owns brands including Ballantine’s whisky and Harveys Bristol Cream, is believed to be taking the unusual step to convince public health officials that the drinks industry does not need external regulation. Wishing to prove how responsible it is, Allied has even withdrawn an ad - which has never been shown - for Wet By Beefeater, a cocktail version of Beefeater gin.
It showed a man and a woman at a piano with the slogan: "When he looked at her like that she knew she would get wet."
What’s the world coming to?
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
22 Nov
2003
No barley will mean no whisky industry
Until responsibility for the whisky industry is transferred to Edinburgh, the Cardhu saga will remain a mar-ginal interest for London politicians.
The rural development minister, Ross Finnie, is "consulting" on the future of Scottish agriculture, but while Diageo is able to treat malt whisky as a commodity and source the raw ingredients for it from anywhere in the world, the future of Scottish agriculture is not in our hands.
The few multinationals which own our distilling industry have halved the price they pay for low nitrogen malting barley in the last seven years. Prices are now below the cost of production, so without subsidy there would be no malting barley grown in Scotland.
To pay farmers a price which did give them a return would cost only pence per bottle. It, therefore, comes as no surprise that an industry which treats its supply base with such disdain is as cavalier with the reputation of its final product.
The organisation, Linking Environment and Farming, of which I am chairman, promotes integrated farm management, a discipline for farmers which shows the way. However, without a realistic price from the distillers for our malting barley there will be no future for Scottish agriculture.
In time, Scotland will have no whisky industry either; no barley grown in Scotland means it will be cheaper to make whisky elsewhere.
ET BAXTER
Gilston
nr Leven, Fife
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
21 Nov
2003
£7,500 bid offer for trip to Macallan
A Listener to one of radio's most popular breakfast shows has paid £7,500 for an exclusive trip to the Macallan Distillery on Speyside.
William Jones made the highest offer after an hour's frenzied bidding during the BBC's Children In Need auction on yesterday's Wake Up With Wogan programme.
It will see Mr Jones, from the Isle of Man, flown north along with a friend and treated to a VIP tour of the distillery near Craigellachie.
They will be given access to the Macallan's unique £14.5million Fine and Rare range of vintage malt whiskies which is normally kept well under lock and key. The most expensive bottle in the range is worth £20,000.
Mr Jones and his guest will stay at the Craigellachie Hotel and they will be served lunch or dinner in the dining-room at Easter Elchies House, the distillery's spiritual home overlooking the River Spey.
They will also be given a tutored nosing and tasting by Bob Dalgarno, the Macallan's whisky maker. Carol McLaren, of the Macallan team which arranged the auction prize, said staff at the distillery were delighted with the amount the Macallan trip had raised for Children In Need. "The distillery team pride themselves in the warm welcome they give all our visitors to ensure that each and every guest enjoys the uniquely exclusive atmosphere at the Macallan," she said.
"But the winners of today's auction prize can be sure that absolutely all the stops will be pulled out for their visit.
"They will enjoy the truly unforgettable malt whisky experience of a lifetime."
Article Courtesy of The Press & Journal
pressandjournal
20 Nov
2003
Glenmorangie sees malt sales rise 10%
GLENMORANGIE continued its march on the growing malt whisky market yesterday after reporting an 8 per cent increase in half-year profits on the back of growth of 10 per cent in its flagship brand.
Chief executive Paul Neep said the group continues to make good progress against all strategic objectives and emphasised that developing and building premium brands for the long term remains the firm’s key objective.
Focusing on the Far East, Neep said that in real terms the percentage of Glenmorangie’s business in Asia was relatively small, but he was looking to grow that in the next decade.
Neep said: "There are some interesting markets for malt in the Far East, particularly in Korea and Taiwan, and we are looking at their potential."
The company said shipments of its Glenmorangie malts rose 10 per cent, while its Glen Moray brand was ahead 8 per cent, spurred by the "Glen of Tranquility" advertising campaign that will continue over Christmas.
Overseas sales were strongest in the US with Glenmorangie outperforming rivals, while sales in Canada doubled.
The alliance with Bacardi-Martini brought instant rewards in the UK with its marketing strengths enabling Glenmorangie to capture market share from competitors.
It also gave it a distribution platform in Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Austria and Switzerland.
The company began bottling the new cream spirit brand Drambuie Sylk in July and this has been introduced to the US market. Neep said the tie-in with Drambuie was a "win-win" for both parties, but he ruled out the possibility of a takeover.
"It is a private company, it is not for sale and we have never shown an interest in buying it."
Neep added that an expansion at its Glenmorangie distillery had lifted output, while its Ardbeg distillery on Islay is currently operating at more than 90 per cent capacity. Glenmorangie has three distilleries, in Tain, Elgin and Islay, and employs 295 full-time staff.
The Ardbeg brand has entered the top ten malts in the off-trade sector, but Neep warned that heady sales growth of 20-30 per cent would soon slow due to limited stocks inherited in 1997 with the distillery, which was mothballed during the 1980s.
He also cautioned that a sustained recovery of world economies continued to be uncertain, and he anticipated the medium term environment towards higher UK interest rates could affect consumer spending in the home market.
Drinks analyst Fulton Patterson at Seymour Pierce said that there was great potential in the next few years as the benefits of the Brown-Forman and Bacardi tie-ups was just starting to come through.
Patterson said: "I think they are a well-managed business now, the new guys in charge are showing their mettle.
"Christmas is absolutely vital for them of course. They are now number one in the UK having overtaken Glenfiddich, gearing has come down again.
"The Far East is starting to move quite nicely, all these things are quite promising. I think they will carry on growing and go from strength to strength."
The dividend was increased by 7 per cent to 4.5p per A ordinary share (which carry limited voting rights) and 2.25p per B ordinary share, reflecting continued confidence in the groups prospects.
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
20 Nov
2003
Distillers meet to talk over diageo issue
The Scotch whisky industry has backed down on threats to sue drinks giant Diageo for labelling Cardhu a "pure malt" after changing the contents.
But senior directors of the major distillers still plan to pursue the matter with the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA).
About 60 distillers met in Glasgow yesterday to discuss what action they should take against Diageo for changing Cardhu from a single malt to a blend of malts from different distilleries.
It is understood the vast majority of single-malt distillers were represented, including Allied Domecq, Chivas Brothers, William Grant & Sons, Morrison Bowmore and John Dewar and Sons.
Diageo, which owns such brands as Guinness, Smirnoff and Baileys, changed the recipe of Cardhu because of a shortage of single-malt whisky to supply the profitable Spanish market.
The industry believes changing the wording on the label from "single malt" to "pure malt" will confuse customers and undermine the prestigious and profitable single-malt market.
Senior directors from the main whisky companies wrote to Diageo and the SWA yesterday about the marketing of Cardhu.
Their message was that the industry cannot compromise on the protection of single-malt whisky and Diageo should reconsider using the name Cardhu - which has been a single malt for 30 years - for a mixture of malt whiskies.
A spokesman for the group said: "We are confident that sense will prevail."
Diageo's president for Europe, Ian Meakins, said he was pleased the other companies had agreed to pursue the matter with the SWA.
"As previously stated, we have at all times sought to resolve the issue with the rest of the industry through the SWA," he said.
"'We remain committed to the long-term future of the SWA as the best forum for continuing this debate and seeking to develop a common and coherent voice for Scotch whisky.
"Diageo's commitment to Scotch whisky is absolute. We want the Scotch whisky category to grow and expand. We recognise that innovating in an industry renowned for tradition over modernity has provoked animated discussion."
SNP MEP Ian Hudghton has stepped into the fray on the side of the disgruntled distillers.
He has approached the European Commission to see if the term single malt could be recognised and protected under the EU's Agriculture Quality Policy.
Article Courtesy of The Press & Journal
pressandjournal
19 Nov
2003
Distillers single-minded over malt
THE Scotch whisky industry last night united against Diageo over its decision to relaunch Cardhu as a "pure malt".
At a crunch meeting behind closed doors at the Glasgow offices of Morrison Bowmore, senior executives from all of the major distillers rallied behind the industry’s representative body, the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) , saying it still had a "significant role to play" in the resolution of the issue.
It is understood that, after a "gentlemen’s agreement", it was decided that a statement will not be issued until Glenmorangie reports its interim results to the City at 8 am today.
But last night a source close to the meeting said it had resulted in a unanimous condemnation of Diageo’s actions. He said: "The industry is very concerned about the Diageo move and we will be working with the Scotch Whisky Association to resolve the issue."
It is believed the vast majority of single malt distillers were present at the meeting, including executives from Allied Domecq, Chivas Brothers, William Grant’s and John Dewar and Sons.
Diageo’s move to change the Cardhu bottle’s contents from a single malt to a vatted malt from five distilleries without changing its name has caused outrage in the industry.
On Thursday, a meeting between Diageo managers and Scottish MPs to try to resolve the dispute ended inconclusively.
Diageo insists it will not back down, claiming the change at Cardhu will boost the £20-a-bottle whisky's profile.
All eyes now turn to the SWA’s next meeting on 4 December where industry leaders will meet Diageo to try to reach a compromise.
Last night, Diageo said that, ultimately, the issue had to be resolved by the SWA.
After reaching the floor of the House of Commons last week, it was the European parliament’s turn to discuss the issue when the SNP MEP, Professor Neil MacCormick, asked the president of the European parliament to write to Diageo’s chief executive.
Speaking in the opening session of the parliament’s plenary session in Strasbourg, Prof MacCormick said that brand owners should not mislead the public by abuse of a well-known name.
Prof MacCormick said: "Just as we should be concerned when counterfeiters abuse rightholders, so we should be alert when rightholders abuse consumer confidence.
"Diageo, the global spirits producer, has lately done this very thing. It is not the single product of a single distillery. Consumers are being misled, and the good name of Scotch whisky is being put at risk."
Last week Angus Robertson, the Scottish National Party MP, called on the Prime Minister to support cross-party efforts to force Diageo into a U-turn. He told the House of Commons that Diageo was "undermining the standing of this important industry".
A wary Tony Blair told the Commons: "I will look into this issue. I am not entirely sure this is a matter for government. At least, I sincerely hope it’s not a matter for government."
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
19 Nov
2003
Fiddlers' whisky gig in Frankfurt
It's a long way to go for a Saturday night gig, but the 14 teenage fiddlers flying to Frankfurt this weekend to play at a European whisky festival are not complaining.
Moray musical group Strathspey Fiddlers have been invited to perform at mainland Europe's biggest whisky festival.
A combination trade fair and festival of whisky culture, InterWhisky 2003 features three days of talks and tastings of whiskies from Scotland, Ireland, Canada and in the USA.
Whisky is big business in Germany, with German retail stores selling approximately 12million bottles of Scotch whisky last year, and about 300 people are expected to attend the weekend festival.
The event will culminate in a Scottish dinner in the Inter-Continental Hotel, with entertainment provided by the Strathspey Fiddlers.
The performance will not be limited to fiddling, according to group leader Donald Barr. The teenagers from Huntly, Keith and Buckie will also provide piping, dancing and singing.
He said: "Performing for 300 people from all over Europe is going to be great fun." The fiddlers will leave Scotland early on Saturday morning and return the next day.
During their brief visit, the group will be treated in style, staying overnight at the five-star hotel where the dinner is taking place.
Several area distilleries will be represented at the festival, including Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, Glenrothes and Strathisla.
Article Courtesy of The Press & Journal
pressandjournal
18 Nov
2003
Water of life's secrets sold off
IT HAS been Scotland’s number one indigenous export since Friar John Cor first appeared in the Exchequer Rolls with eight bolls of malt in 1494. But now the £2 billion whisky industry is not only exporting the water of life but also the means and materials to make it...
Click here for full story
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
18 Nov
2003
Diageo chief's £50,000 shares windfall
DIAGEO, the drinks giant, launched an offensive yesterday to rebuff accusations that it was forced to blend its single malt brand Cardhu because it had misjudged stock levels.
In an interview with The Scotsman, Jonathan Driver, the company’s global malt whisky director, said it was a strategic move aimed at building on the success Cardhu had enjoyed in Spain.
Mr Driver said: "We are not short of Cardhu, but we have reached capacity. The issue here, and the vocabulary is very important, is strategic. Shortage is not the issue. I repeat, we are not short of Cardhu."
However, the issue has put the world’s largest drinks group at odds with the rest of the whisky industry.
Yesterday, the row took another turn when an SNP MP, Angus Robertson, warned Tony Blair that Diageo’s decision to change a brand of single malt to a blend risked "undermining the standing" of the industry.
Mr Blair said he was not sure it was a matter for government, adding: "At least I sincerely hope that it’s not a matter for government."
Critics were angered when the company announced plans to sell the whisky in the same style of bottle and with the name of its Speyside distillery on the label.
They claimed the decision could both damage the industry and confuse drinkers into thinking Cardhu was still a single malt, rather than a blend.
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
17 Nov
2003
Distiller's sales jump
WHYTE & Mackay, the privately-owned whisky distiller formerly known as Kyndal, has reaped the benefits of a push into England and Wales following a jump in sales for the four months to the end of August.
The company sold 20,000 cases south of the Border - worth a total of £2.4 million - during the period compared with just 3500 cases, for £447,000, last year.
Whyte & Mackay said a distribution deal with the UK’s top five supermarkets had fuelled the rise.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
14 Nov
2003
McConnell and MPs intervene in industry rift over single malt
It followed a second meeting between the all-party Commons scotch whisky group and Diageo directors in an attempt to heal a serious rift in the industry between those anxious to preserve the integrity of "single" malt brands and the decision of Diageo to replace its former single malt Cardhu with a blend of malts, calling it "pure malt"...
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Article Courtesy of ThePress & Journal
pressandjournal
13 Nov
2003
Domecq chiefs gain 38% bonus increases
ALLIED DOMECQ, the wines and spirits group, increased the performancerelated bonuses of three of its top executives by more than 38 per cent in its past financial year, even though the company’s share price fell by 7 per cent during the same period.
The world’s second biggest drinks company paid Philip Bowman, chief executive, a performance-related bonus of £1.04 million for the year to August 31, a 40 per cent rise on the year before. Graham Hetherington, chief financial officer, received a £507,000 bonus, up from £366,000 last time. Meanwhile, David Scotland, president of the wine division, received a 63 per cent increase in his bonus, bringing it to £542,000 for the year.
The company defended the bonuses, saying they were “commensurate with the much more demanding economic conditions in many of the relevant markets”.
In October the maker of Ballantine Scotch whisky and Beefeater gin reported a 3 per cent rise in full-year pre-tax profits to £480 million. The company said it was the worst market since 1999, as the war in Iraq and the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) hit demand.
A company spokesman said: “It’s true that our headline earnings per share figure rose by only 3 per cent — but we were hit by the decline in the value of the dollar and an increase in pension payments. When these exceptional items are stripped away we increased underlying profits by 20 per cent.”.
Article Courtesy of The Times
The Times
13 Nov
2003
Distiller defends Cardhu blend
DIAGEO, the drinks giant, launched an offensive yesterday to rebuff accusations that it was forced to blend its single malt brand Cardhu because it had misjudged stock levels.
In an interview with The Scotsman, Jonathan Driver, the company’s global malt whisky director, said it was a strategic move aimed at building on the success Cardhu had enjoyed in Spain.
Mr Driver said: "We are not short of Cardhu, but we have reached capacity. The issue here, and the vocabulary is very important, is strategic. Shortage is not the issue. I repeat, we are not short of Cardhu."
However, the issue has put the world’s largest drinks group at odds with the rest of the whisky industry.
Yesterday, the row took another turn when an SNP MP, Angus Robertson, warned Tony Blair that Diageo’s decision to change a brand of single malt to a blend risked "undermining the standing" of the industry.
Mr Blair said he was not sure it was a matter for government, adding: "At least I sincerely hope that it’s not a matter for government."
Critics were angered when the company announced plans to sell the whisky in the same style of bottle and with the name of its Speyside distillery on the label.
They claimed the decision could both damage the industry and confuse drinkers into thinking Cardhu was still a single malt, rather than a blend.
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
12 Nov
2003
Rebirth of one of Scotland's oldest whiskies
TULLIBARDINE, one of Scotland’s oldest distilleries, will re-open for business at the end of the month almost ten years after it was closed down.
The distillery, in Blackford just south of Gleneagles in Perthshire, will distill a limited production of Tullibardine Single Malt.
Doug Ross, a director of Tullibardine, the consortium which bought the site for £10 million in June, described the reopening as the culmination of a long-term dream.
Mr Ross said: "We have spent a significant sum in restoring the distillery. When we acquired it from Whyte and Mackay in the summer it was in a state that had been sympathetically de-commissioned. All the kit was in good condition but since then we have fitted and upgraded the pumps, valves, pipes and made them more efficient."
Described by Michael Jackson, author of the Malt Whisky Companion, as "eminently quaffable", the whisky has a soft, sweetish, lemony style with a vanilla like spiciness.
Customers will be offered the chance to buy a personalised cask which will be kept in a warehouse for a period of ten years. The casks, on the market at £800, can be labelled, bottled and distributed to the owner’s specifications.
The original distillery dates back to the late 1790s. Home to Highland Spring, Blackford also boasts the site of one the oldest breweries in the UK, dating back to 1488 when it produced a special ale for the coronation of King James IV at Scone.
In the 1970s, Tullibardine was taken over by Invergordon before being mothballed in 1994.
David Williamson, of the Scotch Whisky Association, said: "There has been an encouraging trend of whisky distilleries being reopened and redeveloped and this is good news for the industry."
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
11 Nov
2003
Whisky galore not for Iain
IAIN Banks’s latest oeuvre, Raw Spirit is primarily about whisky but also "an idiosyncratic journal which is part travel book".
The publishers insisted that Banks, "a bit of a petrol head", should drive round the distilleries. But isn’t it funny how whenever publishers commission a Scottish writer to do a book on whisky, they make sure they do it on wheels? Obviously, they do not trust them otherwise to stay sober. Our old mucker on the Diary, Tom Morton, had to do his on a motorbike with sidecar.
Meantime, Banks usually enjoys a dram at his local, the Albert Hotel in North Queensferry, where he was featured in the foodie section of a Sunday magazine this weekend. The Albert’s hostess, Rhona Campbell, was saying, though, that he is not the only famous customer: "Gordon Brown has a house in the village, so he pops in for drinks. Tony Blair used to come with Mr Brown, but he hasn’t been in since Labour has been in power."
Now, there’s a surprise. But where better to build bridges than on the Forth? The Albert can replace Granita - or even Montpeliers - as the scene of Labour’s new deal.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
10 Nov
2003
Distillers in singular threat to Diageo dram
A Row at the heart of the whisky industry is threatening to spill over into the courts.
It comes after industry giant Diageo provoked anger among rival distillers by attempting to pass off a blend of whiskies as a prestigious single malt.
Now a group of distillers have come together to explore the possibility of legal action against Diageo. They say the move could clearly establish a legally binding definition of single malt and benefit the industry.
Representatives from about 60 brands are due to meet in Glasgow a week tomorrow. A civil action of consumer deception against Diageo has already been mooted.
The row flared up after Diageo changed the recipe of one of Speyside's most popular malts, Cardhu. Instead of being a traditional single 12-year-old malt, it is now being made from vatted malt from several distilleries, although it is still being sold as Cardhu.
The only change Diageo has made to the label is to substitute the word "single" with "pure".
Rivals claim that the move will mislead customers and could seriously damage the worldwide reputation of the Scotch whisky industry.
Diageo, which accounts for about half of Scotland's whisky distilling, said it announced changes to Cardhu in July after stocks of the single malt ran low and led to fears they may not be able to meet increasing demand. It is mainly marketing the "pure" malt in Spain at the moment, then will move into Portugal, France, Italy and Greece. It should be available in the UK in about a year.
Diageo says it has carried out publicity, advertising, tasting and consumer education, particularly in Spain to ensure consumers are aware of the change.
Scottish Whisky Association spokesman David Williamson said: "The Scottish Whisky Association is very much involved in discussions about changes to protect and allay the concerns expressed by some member companies.
"We will have discussions with Diageo about the matter to find a way ahead in the best interests of the whole industry."
John Grant, managing director of J & G Grant of Speyside, which makes Glenfarclas, said: "They are misleading the public by selling Cardhu in the same bottle, with the same packaging it has had for years, when what's in the bottle is not Cardhu.
"In my opinion, it sets a dangerous precedent."
Article Courtesy of ThePress & Journal
pressandjournal
09 Nov
2003
Diageo hits back in whisky wars
DIAGEO, the Scotch whisky producer at the centre of an increasingly bitter row over a new, vatted version of its 12-year old Cardhu malt, has hit back at claims that its controversial changes will harm the industry and predicted others would follow in order to grow their exports.
Jonathan Driver, Diageo’s global malt whisky director, last night defended his decision to turn Cardhu single malt into a pure malt - a mixture of five whiskies from various Speyside distilleries - to keep up with demand.
He said rival distillers should welcome his innovation as a way of staving off competition from other spirits categories such as vodka and rum.
He told Scotland on Sunday: "If this is successful, others will follow. That doesn’t mean the end of single malts - it means it is a better and bigger malts category at the end of it all. I genuinely believe innovation is required to take the malt whisky business to the next level."
Diageo is already distributing the Cardhu pure malt in Spain, France, Portugal and Greece after runaway success grew sales by 200,000 cases in little over a decade.
It is also testing the concept in the US, despite the new product isolating Diageo from the rest of the Scotch whisky industry at home. Others are concerned the move will tarnish the reputation of the industry, which had exports worth £2.28bn last year.
But Driver’s comments were described last night as "wishful thinking" by Tony Hunt, deputy managing director of William Grant & Sons, which is leading the opposition.
Hunt accused Diageo of capitalising on the ignorance of Spanish consumers - the biggest drinkers of Cardhu. "The reason why single malt as a category has become the jewel in the crown as far as the Scotch whisky industry is concerned is because we haven’t taken shortcuts," he said.
But Driver said he was ready for the controversy that would meet the launch of the pure malt that it first dreamt up two years ago.
He revealed that limited inventory and growing popularity of single malts had been a looming "crisis point" for Diageo since the company was created in 1997 from the merger of Guinness and GrandMet. It has been selling its Lagavulin single malt at capacity for the past four years. Oban, which sells 64,000 cases a year, has since followed suit, and Dalwhinnie is not far behind in hitting the ceiling of supply.
But Driver rejected the idea that the pure malt concept could be spread to the rest of his portfolio. He said: "Our Lagavulin consumers would have simply rejected the whole proposition."
However, he argues that Cardhu, which has become the fastest-growing malt whisky in the world, is another matter.
"To a Cardhu consumer, to say it comes from a small valley on Speyside is just a little bit too much information when there is so much else that people adore about it," he said, predicting others would follow suit to grow their brands globally.
Driver will appear before the all-party Scotch Whisky Industry group again this Thursday.
Article Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
08 Nov
2003
MPs take shot at resolving Cardhu crisis
SENIOR Westminster MPs are trying to end the dispute over plans to change the make-up of one of Scotland’s top malt whiskies.
Diageo, which has its Scots HQ in Edinburgh, wants to end the production of Cardhu single malt and instead produce a blend of different malts.
They want to label this as "pure malt’’, claiming that existing stocks of the original product are running low.
But small single malt producers are outraged at this potential dilution of their major selling point. Some rival producers - including John Grant, who produce Glenfarclas - are threatening legal action.
William Grant and Glenfiddich are also outraged. They have warned of major sales slumps in the key United States and Japanese markets if the change goes ahead.
The meeting was hosted by Angus Robertson, Scottish Nationalist MP for Moray - home to 50 per cent of Scotland’s distilleries including Cardhu, and included Treasury Select Committee chairman John McFall, who represents Dumbarton.
Following the meeting Diageo has committed itself to talks to try to resolve the dispute, saying it would discuss "concrete solutions".
Over recent weeks the bitter dispute has divided the whisky industry, which has seen threats of legal action and a possible split in the industry body the Scotch Whisky Association.
Speaking after the meeting Mr Robertson MP, who is vice-chairman of the All-Party Scotch Whisky Industry group, said: "This is a positive development and we sincerely hope that realistic proposals will be made next week by Diageo to help end this damaging crisis."
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
06 Nov
2003
CL distillers chief quits
THE chief executive of East Kilbride-based distillers CL World Brands has unexpectedly quit following an announcement that the chairman of its Trinidadian parent firm wanted to be more hands-on in the day-to-day running of the business.
Ian Bankier’s departure will raise questions over the future base of the company, formed last year.
Arnaud de Trabuc, executive director of strategic affairs for CL World Brands, insisted the company would continue to be headquartered out of East Kilbride.
CL World Brands distills the Bunnahabhain and Black Bottle whisky brands and was formed last year through the acquisition of the Burn Stewart distillery by Trinidad and Tobago conglomerate CL Financial.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
05 Nov
2003
Edrington moves to reshuffle board
IAN Curle, the chief executive-in-waiting of the Edrington Group, the maker of the Famous Grouse and The Macallan whiskies, moved yesterday to strengthen his board with the appointment of two new executive directors and a restructuring of the business.
Graham Hutcheon, previously distillation director, based at The Macallan Distillery on Speyside, succeeds Curle as group operations director, while Bill Farrar, who masterminded The Famous Grouse’s quirky TV adverts, is promoted to group sales and marketing director.
Barrie Jackson, a main board director for the last nine years, is promoted from sales and marketing director to a new role as group strategy director and will concentrate on directing the group’s future strategy.
Curle, 42, who was appointed deputy chief executive in May, succeeds Ian Good as chief executive next April to become the youngest chief executive in Edrington’s 150-year history.
Curle said he hoped the moves would strengthen the business, which has doubled in size in the last four years, and will put it in good shape for the tough challenges that lie ahead in the international marketplace.
Earlier this year, Edrington sold its Bunnahabhain and Glengoyne distilleries to Burn Stewart Distillers and Ian Macleod respectively, in deals analysts said were worth more than £20 million.
The move was part of a strategic change in the company to focus on its four main brands, The Famous Grouse, The Macallan, Highland Park and Cutty Sark.
In July the firm reported a 24.6 per cent increase in pre-tax profits to a record £61.7m while turnover rose 14.9 per cent to £230.7m.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
02 Nov
2003
Scotch on the rocks over Diageo
THE Scotch Whisky Association has been thrown into chaos over an unprecedented split between Diageo, Scotland’s largest whisky producer, and the rest of the industry.
Members of the SWA, the industry’s trade body, will put intense pressure on Diageo to reconsider its decision to axe its Cardhu single malt brand when its governing council meets next month...
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Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
30 Oct
2003
Allied Domecq denies SWA pull-out threat
ALLIED Domecq denied last night that it was on the verge of quitting the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) in protest against the inaction over Diageo’s decision to turn its Cardhu single malt Scotch whisky into a vatted malt. A spokesman for Allied said there was "no truth in the rumour whatsoever", but added that Allied are "extremely concerned about this issue and the reputation of single malt".
The row erupted after it emerged that Diageo has substituted the contents of its 12-year-old Cardhu single malt, taken from one source, with a vatted malt, blended from a number of Speyside distilleries. It is a move that many believe will damage the integrity and authenticity of every category of whisky produced in Scotland. A spokesman for the SWA said it was discussing the change with Diageo.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
29 Oct
2003
Festival aims to boost autumn tourism levels
ABOUT 140 events are planned in the ten-day Borders Banquet festival, including cookery demonstrations, murder mystery dinners, wine and whisky tastings and art evenings.
Funded by Scottish Enterprise Borders, it is designed to boost tourism at a traditionally quiet time of the year, said Alan Elliot, tourism business manager at SEB.
Last year it brought in an estimated £150,000, up 29 per cent on the event’s inaugural year.
Elliot said: "Official figures show that 25 per cent of all tourism spend is on food and drink.
Last year we saw a large increase both in average food and drink sales and in the number of bed nights sold as people use the event as a reason to come to the region for a short break."
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
29 Oct
2003
Whisky firm falls into red
MORRISON Bowmore, the whisky distiller, has fallen into the red because of costs associated with a distribution venture in Uruguay.
The Sociedad Anonima joint venture with the Uruguayan government cost Bowmore £700,000 in 2002, and the company has now exited the business.
The venture, along with a move away from sales of cheaper bulk blended whisky, saw Bowmore post a loss of £1.1 million for the year, compared with a profit of £948,000 in 2001.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
28 Oct
2003
Bottling plant is pretty dram fast
SCOTLAND’S fastest whisky bottling plant, capable of producing 600 bottles every minute, has been officially opened by the Edrington Group.
The maker of brands such as Famous Grouse and the Macallan has invested £3 million in the high-speed bottling plant at its Glasgow premises.
The construction of the new plant on Great Western Road saved 50 jobs at the 150-year-old company and is aimed at ensuring the £800m Scottish industry continues to grow.
First Minister Jack McConnell, who officially opened the plant, said: "Scotland’s whisky industry is one of the most important elements of our economy, and its global reputation is stronger than ever.
"Its success plays a strong part in attracting visitors to Scotland and one in 50 Scottish jobs depend on this most famous of industries."
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
26 Oct
2003
William Grant in good spirits as company set to grow
FAMILY-owned distiller William Grant is looking to acquire premium spirit brands after posting a 31% rise in pre-tax profits.
The Glenfiddich distiller wants to boost its portfolio, which ranges from Glenfiddich malt whisky to OVD rum.
A spokesman said: "We are looking for acquisition opportunities. We are a premium spirits business and it makes sense to continue to do that."
He refused to identify which brands were under consideration, but the company’s product range is underweight in brandy.
Grant’s, which has offices in Bellshill, London and Dufftown in Moray, has considerable firepower at its disposal.
At the end of last year the company held £25.9m in cash, up £8m on the previous year.
That increase came despite an £11.2m spending spree which brought Gibson’s Finest Canadian whisky, Polstar vodka and three rum brands into the group. Last year’s acquisitions, along with rising sales of William Grant’s blended whisky, contributed to a 10% rise in turnover to £323m in 2002. Pre-tax profits increased by 31% to £60.8m.
The spokesman said sales of the blend had benefited from customer loyalty and a strong marketing campaign.
Grant’s benefited from its stake in the Famous Grouse and Macallan whiskies, which it shares with rival distiller Edrington.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
26 Oct
2003
Whisky giant's 'threat' to pure single malts
NO-ONE can accuse Peter Smith of lacking fighting spirit. "Everyone talks about the whisky industry being fuddy-duddy and not going anywhere, but we as a company are not like that. We have made changes that we think will benefit everyone in the end, and if other people don’t like it, tough. What’s important is that our customers do...
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Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
23 Oct
2003
Double Award for Bruichladdich in the USA
In a unique double, Bruichladdich has been awarded the title of Distillery of the Year for the second time in three years and Import Malt of the Year for their Vintage 1970 by Malt Advocate, the leading spirits magazine in the USA. The award was announced on Tuesday 21 October at WhiskyFest in New York.
Mark Reynier, Managing Director was delighted with the news, ‘It’s extremely gratifying to be recognised for our innovative approach to making whisky as natural and authentic as possible and validates the major decision we made this year to bottle Bruichladdich at the Distillery.’
Andrew Gray, Sales Director, agreed, saying ‘I’m sure that the quality, depth and breadth of range we have produced in such a short time contributed to the decision to make us Distillery of the Year. It’s amazing to have won this very prestigious title twice, particularly since we’ve only been in operation since 2001.’
Jim McEwan, Master Distiller, who received the awards, commented ‘Winning the title Malt of the Year is a testament to the skills of the guys who made the whisky and the ones who looked after it whilst it was maturing. I had the easy job. I found it, treated it gently - with respect - and let it speak for itself.’
The award for the 1970 confirmed the five star rating already given to this exceptional whisky by US Spirits writer Paul Pacult, who described it as ‘supremely sophisticated and integrated… a complete malt whisky experience’ .
Articles Courtesy of Bruichladdich
bruichladdich
23 Oct
2003
Diageo in good spirits
DIAGEO, the world’s biggest wines and spirits company, has told investors it is well positioned to achieve a "superior" performance following last year’s drop in profits.
Updating shareholders at its annual meeting, chief executive Paul Walsh said the company had demonstrated its ability to generate growth even in challenging times as the global economy struggles to recover from a major slump.
He said some markets were beginning to show signs of improvement, particularly in the United States, which is now Diageo’s most important market.
The group’s major brands include Johnnie Walker Black Label whisky, Baileys cream liqueur, Smirnoff vodka and Guinness.
Mr Walsh said: "Continued share gains, even in difficult markets such as those in Latin America, provide further evidence that Diageo is well positioned to achieve superior performance.
"Therefore, while recognising that we are only three months into the current financial year, we have not seen any trends emerging which would lead us to change our view of Diageo’s future prospects."
Earlier this week, rival Allied Domecq - the world’s second-largest drinks company - reported a three per cent rise in annual profits and said the new financial year had started well, despite difficult market conditions in Europe.
The owner of Ballantine’s whisky, Beefeater gin, Maker’s Mark bourbon and Dunkin’ Donuts posted a pre-tax profit of £495 million for the 12 months to the end of August, up from £480m for the previous year, on turnover two per cent higher at £3.4 billion. But Diageo’s annual results, announced last month, showed a four per cent slide in underlying operating profits to £2bn in the year to the end of June.
While the results were in line with market expectations, the group said it took a £1.5bn hit from the disposal of the Burger King fast food chain in December 2002, which it sold to focus on its spirits division.
Burger King was sold to a group of venture capitalists - led by Texas Pacific and including Bain Capital and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners - for £947m after seeing a previous £1.5bn deal with the same consortium fall through.
Annual turnover at Diageo, which employs 3000 north of the Border under the leadership of Scotland director Allan Burns, rose three per cent last year to just under £9bn.
Analysts believe the company - formed from the merger of drinks group Guinness and food and spirits firm Grand Metropolitan in 1997 - is lining up a £1.3bn sale of its 21 per cent stake in General Mills, maker of Cheerios cereal and Yoplait yoghurt.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
22 Oct
2003
Allied sinks as results lose fizz
SHARES in Allied Domecq, the world’s second biggest drinks firm after Diageo, were the FTSE 100’s second biggest faller yesterday after flattish annual results and a bleak statement on trading in mainland Europe.
The market was taken aback that Allied’s volume growth in spirits and wines, excluding acquisitions, slowed to just 1 per cent in the year to end-August from 4 per cent at the half-year stage.
Philip Bowman, group chief executive, said: "The European economies are difficult. We don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel."
Nigel Davies, a drinks specialist at investment bank JP Morgan, said: "Growth in the second half has slowed considerably in turnover terms and I think people are concerned about what that says about future growth."
Analysts at Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein put their "add" investment recommendation on Allied under review. Shares in the group, which recently lost out in the bid battle for Peter Lehman Wines in Australia to Switzerland’s Hess Group, closed down 16.75p, or 4 per cent, at 384.5p.
Allied, which unveiled a 3 per cent rise in underlying pre-tax profits to £495 million, said that important mainland European markets for the company, such as Germany, France and Italy, were still suffering from severe trading conditions.
Allied’s best-known brands include Ballantine’s whisky and Beefeater gin. Bottom-line pre-tax profits for the group, after exceptionals, fell 15 per cent to £483m (£571m last time).
Bowman, declaring an 8 per cent increase in the annual dividend to 14p, said a strong performance in the US - where profits rose 31 per cent - helped the company ride out the tough conditions in the eurozone.
Trading profits in the spirits and wine division as a whole rose 4 per cent to £522m, helped by Allied’s recent string of acquisitions.
During the period, Sauza tequila became the world’s fastest-growing premium spirits brand, with volumes up a hefty 28 per cent.
Allied’s burgeoning wine business grew volumes by 18 per cent, mainly due to the acquisition of Bodegas y Bodegas in December 2001 and Mumm Cuvee Napa.
Trading profit in Europe dropped 21 per cent to £114m, and 33 per cent before acquisitions were taken into account.
And there was a sharp cut of almost one-third in advertising spending in the Asia Pacific region as a result of the SARS epidemic last spring.
Meanwhile, profits at Allied’s quick service restaurants Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin Robbins climbed 8 per cent.
There has been speculation that Allied will eventually pursue a merger with another major spirits player to try and make up some headway on Diageo, with Pernod and Bacardi of France and Brown-Forman of the US said to be the desired targets.
But Bowman said that Allied Domecq was not talking to anybody currently.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
21 Oct
2003
Sweden faces EU fines if it fails to cut tax on Scotch whisky imports
PRESSURE is building on Sweden to cuts its tax on Scotch whisky after being warned by the European Union that its regulations on importing alcohol violate market rules.
Under Swedish law, those wanting to import alcohol for personal use have to apply to the country’s strict monopoly, Systembolage, to act as a selling intermediary. The European Commission argues that Sweden is depriving companies and individuals their rights under EU law, saying companies have a right to sell products throughout the 15-nation bloc unhindered.
The criticism came just weeks after Denmark gave a major boost to the whisky industry by slashing its tax on Scotch, making it cheaper to buy a bottle in Copenhagen than it is in Edinburgh.
An EU spokesman, said of the Swedish process: "It’s complicated and it’s very expensive so it’s a major disincentive." If Sweden, which applies duty on whisky at twice the UK rate, does not apply European market rules, it faces being fined heavily by the EU high court.
The move was welcomed by the Scotch Whisky Association, which claimed that liberalising the market will increase pressure for excise tax to be bought down.
David Williamson, of the association, said: "We welcome the move because it is introducing a simple and less complicated system for consumers who want to buy alcohol from abroad."
Brussels has also ordered Sweden to abolish its current limits on the amount of duty free that may be brought in by individuals for personal consumption from 1 January, 2004.
Williamson said: "Individuals will be allowed to bring back ten litres of alcohol without incurring additional taxation. In light of this, Denmark has cut its duty by 45 per cent and Finland is proposing a 44 per cent cut. Sweden hasn’t announced its intentions yet, but obviously pressure is building for excise tax to be bought down."
Last year Sweden imported £25.1m worth of whisky, or 8.3 million bottles. About 13 per cent of that was malt whisky.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
21 Oct
2003
Domecq in good spirits
ALLIED Domecq, the world’s second-largest drinks company, today reported a three per cent rise in annual profits and said the new financial year had started well, despite difficult market conditions in Europe.
The owner of Ballantine’s whisky, Beefeater gin, Maker’s Mark bourbon and Dunkin’ Donuts posted a pre-tax profit of £495 million for the 12 months to the end of August, up from £480m for the previous year, on turnover two per cent higher at £3.4 billion.
Chief executive Philip Bowman said: "Early indications are that the 2004 financial year has started well and we are on track to meet current expectations."
Ballantine’s and Beefeater continued to grow market share in Spain.
Despite gains, both brands recorded declines in overall shipment volumes as a result of the change in buying by Spanish wholesalers.
Outside Spain, Ballantine’s volumes grew three per cent, while Tia Maria volumes soared 33 per cent in the UK.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
20 Oct
2003
Intrepid trio look to put fun back into whisky
THREE entrepreneurs are about to embark on a mission to dispel the stuffy pipe and slippers image of Scottish whisky in the hope of opening up the spirit to a whole new generation of drinkers.
The Easy Drinking Whisky Company (EDWC) is launching three whiskies - dubbed simply The Rich Spicy One, The Smokey Peaty One and The Smooth Sweeter One.
The founding directors will follow up the launch of their whiskies - branded under the label Jon, Mark and Robbo - with a tour of Scottish off-licences to better equate the public with what they believe should be whisky’s fun image.
David Robertson, a director of EDWC and former master distiller of The Macallan, said: "There has been a snobbery attached to whisky drinking that has given it an almost elitist image. Jon, Mark and Robbo is aimed at removing the barriers to whisky drinking and making it fun to drink when you want."
The idea for EDWC was hatched on a Scottish hillside last Christmas and came to life after the three - brothers Mark and Jon Geary and David Robertson - secured seed funding from the Edrington Group, the Scottish drinks company, to produce its three malt mixes.
The three men hope to convert existing whisky drinkers, who are tired of the spirit’s frumpy image, as well as tapping into the generation brought up on wine labels such as Fat Bastard.
Similar moves to revamp staid images of other spirits and beverages in the past have met with mixed success. Bicardi managed to make the appeal transition when it introduced its range of flavoured alcopops under the label Bicardi Breezer in the late 90s.
However, a similar attempt to revive the popularity of Seventies favourite Babycham met with less success.
Jon, Mark and Robbo’s three whiskies will be available exclusively from Oddbins at the end of the month.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
17 Oct
2003
442 to design £500,000 Tullibardine complex
EDINBURGH-based consultancy 442 has won the contract to design the £500,000 Tullibardine Distillery retail outlet, restaurant and visitor attraction in Perthshire.
The Leith design agency, which started life in November last year, will help to develop and launch an innovative new retail brand based around the traditional values of whisky. David Dunn, 442’s design director, said: "Our strong commercial focus and modern retail experience is what appealed to the client team."
The project at Tullibardine Distillery forms part of a 50,000 sqft multi-million pound retail development at Blackford, near Gleneagles in Perthshire.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
12 Oct
2003
Scots invited to help bring UK town to China
ITS citizens will enjoy a pint in a traditional pub and may send their children to a school run by Eton College. But while Thames Town will be British in name and character, it will be a long way from home.
Thames Town is one of nine ‘towns’ being built in European styles in the suburbs of Shanghai. Together they are known as Songjiang New City, a £300m project to house 500,000 people in one of the world’s biggest and fastest-growing cities.
Now companies from Scotland are being invited to take part in building Thames Town, which will replicate the character of a small British town, complete with its own hospital and church.
Joan Serafini, who was a civil servant in Scotland for 22 years and now runs her own events business, is organising a symposium in Edinburgh for companies to meet a delegation from the developer, Henghe Real Estate Company, on November 24.
A number of blue-chip companies are on Henghe’s target list, including Tesco, Sainsbury, the Savoy Hotel, Hamleys and Addenbrooke’s Hospital.
Scottish firms have also been targeted in the whisky, hospitality and engineering sectors.
"British businesses are seeing huge opportunities in China and this event will give Scottish firms a chance to find out more about the new town," said Serafini, who flies out to Shanghai this week for an update on the project.
Engineering firm WS Atkins has been sending teams out to Shanghai to develop the masterplan and help with the development and design of the buildings, streetscape and landscaping.
Serafini, who was assistant private secretary to former Scottish Secretary Ian Lang and subsequently private secretary to First Ministers Henry McLeish and Jack McConnell, was asked initially to send two pipers and a Highland dancer to an exhibition and marketing launch this month.
But those behind the project have now asked her Glasgow-based company, Equator Events Management, to take on a consultancy role to identify companies that might be interested in getting involved in the development and provision of a middle school, nursery, whisky exhibition and shop, steakhouse, Scottish souvenirs shop, pub, five-star hotel and gym.
The symposium will be held at the Sheraton Grand Hotel, Edinburgh, on November 24.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
11 Oct
2003
Regular raises glass to 72 years
A WAR veteran has been drinking in the same pub for the last 72 years, his landlord confirmed on his 90th birthday.
Tommy Spurr has popped in almost daily for two pints of bitter and two glasses of whisky at the White Cross Pub, Pudsey, West Yorkshire.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
07 Oct
2003
Jailed over moonshine whisky
A MAN was jailed for two years yesterday for producing moonshine whisky at an illegal distillery on remote farmland. David Cox pleaded guilty to evading £529,275 in excise duty.
He was arrested in January this year after Customs and Excise officers raided farm buildings near Bridgnorth in Shropshire and found six illegal stills. They also discovered 1,500 litres of distilled whisky - some bottled and crated under the name Highland Game - and 35,000 litres of fermenting liquor.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
07 Oct
2003
Duncan quits Glenvarigill for Drambuie
GLENVARIGILL, the Edinburgh luxury motor group bought out from liqueur company Drambuie in a £40 million deal, has lost its marketing director to its former owner.
Miles Duncan, who previously worked with whisky giant Whyte and Mackay, said he was attracted by the opportunity to grow and focus the Drambuie brand in its home market and the role’s commercial side in sales and marketing.
Duncan is the second director to leave Glenvarigill in weeks, after Gavin Manson, the former finance director, sold his 40 per cent stake to managing director Tim Bartlett for an undisclosed sum. Yesterday Bartlett said the two departures were unrelated. "
Martin has been with us for five years, he has made a significant contribution, and was looking for a fresh challenge," he said.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
05 Oct
2003
Whisky fans nip in for Fife distillery shares
A WHISKY company planning to build a new distillery in Fife has raised almost £500,000 from private investors.
The Ladybank Company of Distillers has sold out its first tranche of shares released to enthusiasts and investors in the UK and overseas.
It eventually hopes to raise about£1.5m to fund the creation of the distillery on the outskirts of Ladybank village. Work is expected to start in the new year, with first production of its single malt pencilled in for before the end of 2004.
About 200 UK-based investors have each paid £1,850 for membership of the club, which will entitle them to the equivalent of 12 bottles a year from each vintage during the first 10 years of production.
The club has now released a second tranche of memberships available to UK investors at £2,500. James Thomson, one of the founding directors of the project, said Ladybank had now passed a major hurdle. "When we began this we thought the hardest part would be getting up to the 150-200 member level, but that once we had achieved that we would have the momentum we needed."
The company’s marketing efforts have included exhibiting at an alternative investment show in London last month. "We see this as a lifestyle investment in the same way as someone might invest in classic cars or art," Thomson said. "It gives the investor a great deal more than a pure cash investment."
He said efforts were now being concentrated on increasing the numbers of overseas investors. "We could very easily complete the membership in Scotland and the rest of the UK. We do want more UK investors, but part of the ethos of the project is the ‘pilgrimage’ aspect of people coming from abroad to see this return to the true heritage of scotch whisky."
The club has about 50 overseas members, mainly among expat communities. It is aiming for a total of between 700 and 800 investors with a maximum limit of 1,250.
The distillery, which will have the smallest production of any in Scotland, markets itself as being a return to the origins of distilling - carried out by farmers to convert surplus crops into spirits.
It will also feature a whisky school running courses on production and tasting.
The malting vessels to be used by the distillery are being built by fabricators McMillan of Prestonpans, and are believed to be the first farm-scale vessels for distilling built in Scotland for at least a century.
The company is the second new Scots whisky venture to attract money from private investors this year.
Blackwood Distillers, which is planning to build a new distillery on Shetland, staged a share issue and has been awarded a Highlands and Islands Enterprise grant to help fund the project.
The planned distillery could produce 40,000 cases annually of premium single malt, in peated and unpeated versions, and a variety of wood finishes.
As a return on investment is not expected in the short term, the company intends to provide a whisky dividend to investors who participate in its share offer at the rate of one bottle per annum per 500 offer shares subscribed.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
05 Oct
2003
Are you inspired to vote?
For the sixth year Scotland on Sunday has joined forces with Glenfiddich, the world’s premier single malt Scotch whisky, to give you the chance to vote in the Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Awards®. This unique awards scheme recognises the individuals who inspire our nation, leading the way in Scottish culture from food, music and screen to art, business, writing and sport.
Last year readers cast their votes by the thousand. This year, there is even more reason to have your say, since, for the first time, you will be able to enjoy the actual awards ceremony when the event is broadcast by Scottish and Grampian Television on Saint Andrew’s night.
Last week we profiled the contenders in the worlds of sport and food. This week it’s business and art, to be followed over the next couple of weeks by nominees in music, screen and writing. The nominees have been suggested by our judging panel but it’s up to you to decide who should win.
In the final week, you can vote for the Top Scot Award, an open category where you can choose the Scot from any walk of life whom you believe has made the greatest impact in furthering Scotland’s reputation at home and abroad this year.
Judges The judging panel for the Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Awards includes: John McGurk (editorial director, Scotsman Publications), John McLellan (editor, Scotland on Sunday), Iain Martin (editor, The Scotsman), Sally Gordon (Glenfiddich), Sandy Ross (Scottish Television) and a number of specialist correspondents.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
03 Oct
2003
Praise poured on decanter expert
A WORLD expert on rare whisky decanters has been honoured in the Capital.
Independent wine merchant Brian Wilding was recognised by Bells whisky to mark ten years in the specialist field.
Mr Wilding acquired several of the ceramic decanters about ten years ago and only learned about widespread interest in them after trying to sell them through a classified advert.
He launched the Bells Decanter Register, a private forum which has been involved in buying and selling more than 5000 decanters.
Mr Wilding was honoured with a certificate and bottle of whisky at a ceremony at drinks giant Diageo’s Edinburgh Park offices.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
02 Oct
2003
Whisky now cheaper in Denmark than Scotland
DENMARK has given a major boost to the whisky industry by almost halving its duty on Scotch, making it cheaper to buy a bottle in Copenhagen than it is in Edinburgh.
The Danes, who import £9.3 million worth of Scotch a year, have cut the tax by 35 Kroner (£3.25) a bottle in an attempt to curb the volume of lost tax revenue from cross-border shopping with Germany.
Tax on a bottle of Scotch in Denmark is now 5.84 (£4.11) per bottle, compared with £5.48 in the UK.
Welcoming the move, Hugh Morison, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, said: "Denmark has recognised that high taxes only lead to a disorderly spirits market, with consumers crossing the border to Germany looking for a fairer deal resulting in the government losing valuable tax revenue."
That situation could be exacerbated next January when Denmark will be required by the EU to remove its import restrictions for personal consumption.
Morison added: "With Norway reducing its spirits tax in each of the last two years and the Finnish parliament considering a proposal to cut the duty on Scotch by 44 per cent next year, Denmark’s tax cut is part of a welcome trend across Scandinavia towards the fairer taxation of spirit drinks."
Yesterday, analysts predicted the Danish move might give rise to a domino effect. One source said: "By cutting tax in Denmark the pressure now turns to Sweden. There is a bridge between Sweden and Denmark and early rumours circulating are the Swedes will be forced to cut their duty on whisky by 50 per cent."
If Sweden and Finland do cut their duty by early next year we could have a situation where the UK has the second- highest whisky duty in Europe behind Ireland.
Leonard Russell, the managing director of Glengoyne distillery, which supplies 5,000 cases of whisky a year to Denmark, welcomed the news and said the move should help boost sales.
He said: "Gordon Brown should take note that tax on a bottle of whisky in Denmark is now cheaper than the UK."
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
28 Sep
2003

Pick a winner
GLENFIDDICH'S SPIRIT OF SCOTLAND AWARDS
For the sixth year Scotland on Sunday has joined forces with Glenfiddich, the world’s premier single malt Scotch whisky, to give you the chance to vote in the Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Awards®. This unique awards scheme recognises the individuals who inspire our nation, leading the way in Scottish culture from food, music and screen to art, business, writing and sport.
Last year readers cast their votes by the thousand. This year, there is even more reason to have your say, since, for the first time, you will be able to enjoy the actual awards ceremony when the event is broadcast by Scottish and Grampian Television on Saint Andrew’s night.
Over the next four weeks, Spectrum will profile four individuals in each of the following categories: Business, Art, Food, Sport, Music, Screen and Writing. The nominees have been suggested by our judging panel but it’s over to you to decide who should win.
In the final week, you can vote for the Top Scot Award, an open category where you can choose the Scot from any walk of life whom you believe has made the greatest impact in furthering Scotland’s reputation at home and abroad this year.
Judges The judging panel for the Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Awards includes: John McGurk (Scotsman Publications), John McLellan (Scotland on Sunday), Iain Martin (Scotsman), Sally Gordon (Glenfiddich), Sandy Ross (Scottish Television) and a number of specialist correspondents.
How to vote To vote in the Awards simply call the hotline telephone number listed next to the nominee of your choice, or vote on line at www.glenfiddich.com/spirit
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman

scotsman.com
27 Sep
2003
Whisky of Mass Destruction - how the US spied on a tiny island distillery
IN THE wavering image of a webcam, the figures moved with the sinister intent of those whose mission is mayhem. Thank heavens "Ursula" was watching ...
If the slightest possibility exists that Bruichladdich distillery on Islay is a threat to world peace, we need to know...
Click here for full story
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
25 Sep
2003
Pernod rise lifts spirits
THE world’s third-biggest spirits group, Pernod Ricard, today reported a better-than-predicted rise in first-half profits, helped by a revival of two brands, and predicted earnings growth of about 15 per cent this year.
The Paris-based group, whose drinks cabinet includes vodkas, rums, whiskies, gins and aperitifs, said first-half profits rose to £111.6 million, from £106.8m a year ago, helped by an improvement at its Chivas Regal scotch whisky and Martell cognac brands.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
25 Sep
2003
A dram good job to boost tourism
THE Scotch whisky industry claims to have taken a significant step in realising its tourism potential with the appointment yesterday of Chris Conway as the first Scotch Whisky tourism development manager.
Conway, a former marketing manager with Whyte & Mackay, will initially work with hotels, restaurants and distillery visitor centres to develop new ways of using whisky as a means of attracting tourists to scotland.
Plans currently under consideration include setting up "whisky embassies" throughout Scotland where tourists can learn more about their favourite drink and encouraging restaurants to develop more whisky-based dishes.
The £100,000 project - unveiled by the deputy First Minister and enterprise minister, Jim Wallace, and Ian Good, chairman of the Scotch Whisky Association - is being led by the Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre.
Funding is coming from Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, VisitScotland and the Scotch Whisky Association.
Good said: "More than a million people visit 40 distillery visitor centres throughout Scotland every year.
"The industry is a great ambassador for Scotland. Chris with his depth of experience can build on this."
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
25 Sep
2003
220 jobs set to go as Leith whisky bottling plant is axed
A LEITH whisky factory is to close with the loss of up to 220 jobs.
Whyte and Mackay, one of Scotland’s biggest distillers, revealed yesterday its Leith bottling plant would close as part of major "restructuring" following a review in July of operations at the firm.
The Salamander Place plant is one of two bottling factories which bosses want to merge into one, new high-speed plant.
The 220-strong workforce is now being consulted to establish who will relocate from Leith to a new £20 million state-of-the-art bottling plant in Grangemouth.
Local politicians have questioned the company’s motives for closing the factory and say it has fallen victim to the Capital’s property boom. Mark Lazarowicz, Labour MP for Edinburgh North and Leith, said:
"I’m extremely angry at the company’s decision to close the Leith plant. They will be hoping that they can sell their Leith site for housing development, but I will vigorously oppose any such proposal because this part of Leith has been identified as an area for employment rather than housing.
"I am calling on the council to stop that from happening."
The existing plant in Grangemouth, which has 140 staff, will eventually accommodate 220 workers when it is complete in two years’ time. At least 140 people, expected to be from Leith, will be made redundant.
Trade union leaders said today that the company had made a mockery of consultation procedures and that they will oppose any compulsory redundancies.
Whyte and Mackay said the changes were part of a £70m revamp. Vivian Imerman, chief executive and chairman at Whyte and Mackay Ltd, said long-term sustainability and the "relative land values" of the sites had swayed their decision.
She said:
"We will do everything in our power to help find new employment opportunities for those who regrettably are affected."
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
24 Sep
2003
Whisky tots up a success
SCOTCH Whisky has proved its resilience in the face of severe economic difficulties with the value of exports rising a credible 2.3 per cent in the first six months of the year...
Click here for full story
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
23 Sep
2003
Export if Scotch up in spite of Sars virus
SCOTCH whisky is continuing to grow in the world export market, despite international economic troubles exacerbated by the Sars virus, according to new industry figures released today.
Figures show the value of Scotch whisky exports rose to £961 million in the first six months of 2003, an increase of 2.3 per cent compared with the same period last year.
According to the statistics, released today by the Scotch Whisky Association, the global interest in bottled malts is continuing, with malt whisky recording double-digit growth.
There was an 18 per cent leap in the value of malt exports to £121m, on the back of a 22 per cent rise in shipment volumes of malt whisky to more than 22 million bottles.
Sales of blended whisky bottled in Scotland - which make up 80 per cent of the total export value - also performed well, rising 1.5 per cent to £740m.
Ian Good, chairman of the Scotch Whisky Association, said: "An increase in the value of Scotch exports during the first half of 2003 is very encouraging at what was a difficult time for the world economy due to international unrest and the Sars outbreak."
He added: "We are delighted the popularity of malts continues to increase around the world.
"The leap in the value and volume of malt exports is testament to a growing awareness among consumers of its different styles and characteristics.
"Just as welcome is the news that blended whisky values are also up in 2003."
Despite the Sars outbreak, the value of exports to key Asian markets such as South Korea and Taiwan grew by 4.6 per cent and 23 per cent respectively, and there are signs that the Chinese market is beginning to develop a taste for Scotch.
The value of Scotch exports to China jumped 160 per cent in the first half of the year, representing an increase of around £2m.
But in Japan, exports tumbled 37.4 per cent in value to £36.9m as the volume of Scotch imported by the country collapsed by 51.4 per cent to 11.6 million bottles in the wake of the Sars virus.
Closer to home, exports to the European Union rose £32m to £363m, an increase of 9.6 per cent over the first six months of 2002.
Mr Good said: "There was also a welcome sign of the possibilities that await distillers when the EU expands eastwards next year, with sales to eastern European countries increasing both by value, 39 per cent, and volume, 54 per cent."
In the UK, growth of Scotch whisky was described as "steady", with volumes rising by 2.5 per cent, or 1.1 million bottles over the first half of 2002 to reach 47 million bottles.
Sales to the industry’s most valuable market, the United States, increased by six per cent in volume terms to 54.5 million bottles, and by one per cent in value terms to £139.3m.
In France, the largest market in terms of volume, the value of exports rose by 2.4 per cent to £103.4m, but volumes slumped by 10.6 per cent to 64.9 million bottles.
The value of exports to Spain soared by 42.6 per cent to £120.7m, with volumes growing by 22.5 per cent to 48.5 million bottles.
In 2002, some £2.28bn worth of Scotch whisky was exported around the world, making the industry one of the UK’s top five manufactured export earners.
Mr Good is also chairman and chief executive of distiller Edrington, which has unveiled plans for a £1.2m global marketing drive in a bid to establish its flagship single malt, The Macallan, as "the world’s most precious whisky".
The promotion begins next month in the US before being rolled out internationally.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
19 Sep
2003
African 'Scotch' to be destroyed
THOUSANDS of litres of fake Scotch whisky made in South Africa are to be destroyed following a successful application yesterday to the Cape Town High Court by the Scotch Whisky Association.
A rogue South African company has been selling "Scotch" - "produced in Scotland and bottled in South Africa" to local connoisseurs for years under such labels as the Original Scotsman, Glen Dowan, Prince Regent, Old Spencer and Glenshire.
The sad fact is, Judge Ashley Binns-Ward said, that these Scotch aficionados have really been drinking South African grape and cane spirit with caramel added.
Judge Binns-Ward ordered the destruction of an initial 700 cases of the fake Scotch produced by a Pretoria firm called Purple Rains. The "whisky" had already been seized.
The decision followed an application to the court by the Edinburgh-based Scotch Whisky Association and Guinness United Distillers.
It is the first successful crackdown against fake whisky manufacturers who dilute sales of genuine Scotch whisky, which were worth £51 million to Scotland in 2002.
Judge Binns-Ward also banned Purple Rains from future use of labels depicting kilted Scots, bagpipes and all use of the words Glen, Scotch, Scotland and Scotsman.
David Williamson, the public affairs manager of the Scotch Whisky Association, said: "We welcome this court decision. One of our fundamental priorities is to protect the reputation of Scotch whisky against unfair competition around the globe."
Mr Williamson said 90 per cent of Scotch production was exported in trade worth £2 billion a year. "South Africa is very important to us, our 11th-biggest export market, with 22 million cases heading there each year," he said.
Scotch whisky received more legal protection abroad this week thanks to a deal between the European Union and Canada. Scotch whisky will be registered as a protected "geographical indication" in Canada. That will prevent rogue traders from suggesting Canadian-style whiskey is "Scotch whisky". In 2002 Scotch whisky exports to Canada were worth £34 million.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
13 Sep
2003
Roll out the barrels of fun
As we drive up the long, bumpy road to the house which skirts the beach at Cadboll, we can see something moving out at sea. We stop and watch as a dark shape tosses and sprays below us. "It’s a dolphin!" cry the children. Our first sighting of a bottle-nosed dolphin in the Moray Firth.
Lined with faded old whisky barrels, the road eventually leads to Glenmorangie House. The children, who half-expect to be staying inside a "fuming whisky factory", leap out of the car in excitement at the sight of a giant chess set and mini-putting green on the lawn. We have arrived late, after taking several attempts on single-track roads off the A9 to find this remote spot, and we are nowhere near the distillery...
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Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
13 Sep
2003
Tickle your taste buds
Deep-fried Mars bars. It’s time that cliché about the limits of Scottish culinary imagination was banished for good. That’s the thinking behind a succession of festivals celebrating Scottish food and drink this autumn. Expect freshly caught seafood, home-reared lamb, pork, beef and venison, and an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables on the menu as local producers aim to catch the imaginations of food fanciers at home and abroad.
Three festivals in the next month celebrate a fine dining scene in this country that rivals the best of European cuisines.
At the Skye and Lochalsh festival, running from Thursday until Sunday, the emphasis - inevitably - will be on seafood, with planned events including sample tastings, walks around the seafood factory at Lochalsh and special menus at the famed Three Chimneys Restaurant on the shores of Loch Dunvegan in Skye.
Next on the agenda is the Taste of Mull and Iona Festival, from 21 to 27 September, a now-annual event in the Hebridean Isles. Again, locally caught salmon, mussels, oysters and langoustines will feature, but there will be a chance to sample the high quality of naturally reared lamb, pork, venison and beef too.
Additional events include cruises operating from Tobermory Bay which offer the chance to sample Mull shortbread and whisky while watching out for any passing porpoises and seals.
The Highland Food and Drink Festival runs from 2-5 October.
Events planned include a garlic night at Tulloch Castle, featuring the range of the local Really Garlicky Company, and a Whisky Galore evening, with the chance of some tasting while listening to traditional entertainment.
Celebrity chef Ainsley Harriot will conduct a cooking demonstration and there’ll be the chance for local young chefs to show off their skills.
One of the first official food events in Scotland was the International Festival of Food and Drink in St Andrews, held each year to coincide with St Andrew’s Day celebrations in the town. Started in the mid-1980s by local hoteliers who were keen to boost tourism at a traditionally quiet time of year, it has become a key celebration of Scots produce and cuisine. But you’ll have to wait until the end of November to sample the fare at that one.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
13 Sep
2003
Distillery visits
Professor John Lennon ("Selling Scotland", 9 September) draws the wrong conclusions from the falling numbers of visitors to distilleries. Numbers have declined over the past decade as the distillers recognise that they are not in the tourism business but the brand promotion business.
Accordingly, they have directed their efforts to value not volume, encouraging enthusiasts. Headline numbers have fallen, but shop sales and brand awareness have grown as visitors with the purchasing power to buy and consume luxury Scotch whisky brands are welcomed.
The real innovators in the category, such as Dewar’s World of Whisky in Aberfeldy, use their centres primarily for trade education and entertainment, bringing affluent and influential visitors from around the world to the heartland of their brand.
And here is the challenge for Scotland: how to attract the affluent, discerning few. VisitScotland’s strategy of targeting clear categories deserves time, and a budget equal to the task.
IAN BUXTON
The Edinburgh Consultancy
East London Street
Edinburgh.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
12 Sep
2003
'Elitist' comments do our cuisine a grave disservice
Your headline, "Most visitors feel ripped off" (10 September), is spot on when it comes to the price of a bottle of whisky in Scotland. I know, from answering incredulous visitors from Thailand, the United States and the European Union, that all feel surprised, and in some cases cheated, at the cost of a bottle of Scotch here.
As Philip Riddle, the chief executive of VisitScotland, notes, "it’s cheaper in Calais". No wonder, when the excise duty on a bottle of whisky in Scotland is £5.48, yet only about £3 in France.
Bizarrely, Scotland is one of the most expensive countries anywhere in the world to buy Scotch, which is why visitors should seek out bottles they cannot find at home.
Perhaps it is time for some joined-up thinking, with the government cutting the duty to boost trade and reduce the charge of rip-off Scotland.
CAMPBELL EVANS
Scotch Whisky Association
Atholl Crescent
Edinburgh.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
10 Sep
2003
Where to go if the spirit moves you
I’LL have a 17.26 and . . . a kedgeree, please," says the polite gentleman with the neatly-trimmed white beard.
It’s not the usual type of order you’d expect to hear in an Edinburgh bar, but then No 87 Giles Street isn’t your typical boozer. This is the home of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, the members-only club for all lovers of the water of life...
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Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
06 Sep
2003
It's a dram fine place
SHOPPERS in Edinburgh are Britain’s biggest connoisseurs of whisky, according to a survey by supermarket Somerfield.
Customers at five Somerfield stores in and around the Capital are buying more of the supermarket’s top lines of whisky than anywhere else in the country.
A spokesman said: "People in Edinburgh clearly have great taste buds."
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
06 Sep
2003
Chinese queuing up to buy the Rolls-Royce of expensive whiskies
PLANS are being drawn up to put the world’s largest, most expensive collection of Scotch whisky on sale to the rich and famous - in China.
More than 10,000 bottles from "The Macallan Fine and Rare" collection, valued at £14.5 million, are to go on the market as the largest range of vintage single malt whiskies ever released for sale, with ages of production spanning the years from 1926 to 1972.
Each complete set from the range costs about £140,000 and the Chinese showcase event, planned for Shanghai in November, forms part of a worldwide launch, which also features London, New York and other Far East countries.
The single most expensive bottle is priced at £20,000, with The Macallan 1956 coming in at £10,000. Miniatures are on sale at £61 each.
The Chinese interest comes after The Macallan became the first whisky company to open a sales office in Shanghai, serving markets from South Korea to Australia.
Over the last five years there has been a 48 per cent rise in sales of Scotch whisky in China, according to figures compiled by the Scotch Whisky Association. Martin Reimann, the Asia Pacific director with parent company Edrington, said a growing number of wealthy Chinese who are fashion and status conscious regard The Macallan as an accessory to show off at home.
"It’s commonly referred to as the Rolls-Royce of malts and we believe that those qualities will win the hearts of Chinese whisky lovers. We have received strong interest from high ranking Communist Party officials, top-end retailers, hoteliers, restaurateurs and journalists."
The "Fine and Rare" collection would normally appeal to wealthy American, European or Japanese whisky connoisseurs or canny investors looking for an alternative investment strategy.
A couple of collections have already been pre-sold to two customers, an Italian and an American - who asked if he could pay in installments because his wife would notice one chunky bill for over £140,000 on his credit card statements.
The Chinese are well aware of the potential investment value of whisky - The Macallan has commanded 19 out of the 23 highest prices at recent whisky auctions. It is possible to make 16 per cent a year investment return from a bottle.
"We have often been asked why the extraordinary range of vintage Macallan has never been available for sale," said David Cox, director of fine and rare whiskies. "In response to that demand we are making available the greatest range of single malts ever seen."
Martin Green, whisky specialist with McTears Auctioneers in Glasgow, said: "The investment value of whisky has been proven time and time again, making it an ideal gift to purchase if someone is looking for something a little bit special."
When The Macallan team held the launch party for the Shanghai office, supplies of their product almost ran out. At another Chinese conference event, partly sponsored by The Macallan and attended by Tony Blair, many bottles of The Macallan 30-year-old (worth £300 each) were bought up by entrepreneurial delegates.
"The bottles were intended purely for display purposes - we were astounded and delighted when the delegates started snapping them up," said Reimann.
"And the buyers were all women. Obviously, they had done their research and realised that it is a great investment as well as being a superb dram."
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
03 Sep
2003
Mystery bidder misses out as bottle sells for £9,200
A MYSTERY Scottish celebrity lost out yesterday after a rare bottle of whisky more than tripled its estimated price when it was sold at auction as part of an effort to raise cash for a children’s charity.
The Islay single malt - which had been expected to be knocked down for about £3,000 - sold for £9,200 with the buyer’s premium - going to the Bowmore Distillery, which produced it.
The unnamed personality had contacted McTear’s auction house in Glasgow with a bid of £8,000.
Martin Green, the whisky consultant at McTear’s, said: "The price didn’t beat any world records, but it still exceeded expectations.
"A very famous person in Scottish life had made an initial bid in writing, and had a representative in the saleroom on the day, but it wasn’t to be his day."
Bidders from France, Japan, Italy and Holland all vied for the bottle. And the sale saw a fierce bidding war on the floor at McTear’s between the mystery man and representatives from Bowmore.
The money raised will go to the distiller’s chosen charity, the Children’s Hospice Association Scotland (CHAS), which is backed by the actor Ewan McGregor.
CHAS hopes to raise £10 million to open its second Scottish hospice, Robin House in Argyll and Bute, next year.
Bob Tomlinson, of CHAS, said: "It’s absolutely superb that Bowmore have generously made this donation. We’re over the moon."
The whisky came from the Queen’s cask, which was laid down at the distillery on the island after the sovereign visited in 1980.
All the bottles contained in it were given to Buckingham Palace, so the Queen could auction them off for her chosen Golden Jubilee charities.
But one bottle was kept back to allow Bowmore to sell it for the charity of its choice. Mr Green added: "It may not have raised as much money as they may have hoped, but nevertheless this is an utterly unique whisky.
"It is a youngish spirit and was only distilled in 1980, but we are delighted it sold for as much as it did."
Two other specially labelled 15-year-old Bowmores were also sold off for the charity, each raising £880.
A spokesman for Bowmore said: "We are very happy at the amount raised."
Among the 2,000 bottles of whisky sold yesterday were six which were salvaged from a 19th-century shipwreck off the coast of Stranraer.
The bottles, which were retrieved from the wreck of the cargo ship Firth of Cromarty, which sank in 1898, all fetched between £250 and £300.
Bowmore had hoped the sale of its single malt might beat the top price ever fetched for a bottle of whisky, which stands at almost £26,000.
A 62-year-old Dalmore, also a single malt, which was bottled in Alness, Ross-shire, fetched £25,877.50 at McTear’s in December last year.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
02 Sep
2003
Whisky club enjoys taste of success
IT BEGAN when a dozen friends clubbed together to buy a cask of fine malt whisky 20 years ago.
Now, with nearly 25,000 members worldwide, the Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) is to open a new club in the heart of the capital.
The society will retain its headquarters in 18th century Leith commercial buildings but will open a five-storey Georgian House in Queen Street complete with dining rooms, a library, bar and flats to stay in, next spring.
Richard Gordon, the managing director of the SMWS, said the reason for the society’s success was that tasting whisky was a sociable activity with the club run on an egalitarian basis.
"It is a very good Scottish ideal that people from all walks of life and ages can mix and that is how we run the club," he said.
"The only rules are that members have to be over 18, want to join and be happy to pay the subscription. Other than that we expect people to leave behind their titles and background when they cross the entrance to ensure a relaxed atmosphere. That is why the Leith rooms have flourished, but we have got to the stage when we sometimes have to turn members away because we have no room for them so we need to expand.
"There can be no more sociable activity than comparing notes over different whiskies and is often how strangers who come to the club will strike up conversation.
"For many people who live and work in Edinburgh it can be too far to travel down to Leith and our site on Queen Street will give members a high quality city-centre venue.
"It is a magnificent five storey Georgian house which was the headquarters for the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland and is being restored to its former glory."
The club bottles its own whiskies direct from individual casks from 113 distilleries across Scotland to give members the chance to buy bottles which come numbered but not named.
This is in recognition of a gentlemen’s agreement within the industry not to mention in print which distillery is which, as producers carefully foster their own house style which might be compromised by single casks which can be erratic.
Tasting and comparing notes on different malts, which tend to produce fewer than 300 bottles from each cask, has become such a global pursuit that the society now has associated branches in America, France, Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Japan and Austria.
Mr Gordon said: "Although no-one is excluded from joining the club, we do offer a high level of service, atmosphere and style which is what members who appreciate high quality in whisky demand.
"When the new building opens in Spring 2004 they will have the chance to enjoy the restaurant and members’ room as well as hire it out for functions and have the chance to stay there in the two top flats. The flats we rent out to members in Leith are always popular so we are happy to be able to offer this facility in 28 Queen Street. There are also stunning views across the Forth and we believe it will replicate the atmosphere of our present headquarters."
The SMWS offers a range of tastings and events as well as running a Whisky School which takes place regularly in Edinburgh and London to enable members to develop their whisky knowledge further.
The society costs £75 to join - complete with a bottle of malt.
Membership allows access to the club’s London room - kitted out in the style of a small, modern club and the headquarters at the Old Wine Vaults in Leith.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
27 Aug
2003
Distillery probe into black mould
A DISTILLERY in the Lothians is to launch a major investigation into a black mould which has been blamed on the vapours given off by maturing whisky.
Distilleries across the country have been plagued by complaints from residents of the mysterious mould appearing on their windows and walls.
Householders have blamed the vapours from the whisky warehouses - known as "the Angels’ share" - for the problem.
But the distillers have consistently denied the moulds have any link with their work - and hope the new investigation will prove it.
The investigation has been commissioned by the North British Distillery company, which wants to expand its whisky maturation operations in West Lothian by building four new warehouses in Addiewell.
The three-year study into the "black growth phenomenon" is due to start in October and is expected to cost tens of thousands of pounds.
The research comes after people living close to the West Lothian distillery, in the Muirhall area of Addie-well, complained a black mould was covering their walls, cars and windows. Similar complaints have been received by distilleries across Scotland. Ian Ford, company secretary at the North British Distillery, said: "We have never accepted the link which residents have claimed and we don’t believe a link will be established.
"We have worked with the residents, listened to their concerns and we are now going to carry out a study with wider companies in the industry."
The independent investigation is being carried out in collaboration with the National Environmental Research Council, Newcastle University and the Whisky Research Foundation.
Campbell Evans, spokesman for the Scotch Whisky Association, said he believed the investigation would prove the industry’s theory that the mould was a natural phenomenon in damp areas.
He said: "What has been done so far shows that these are common micro-organisms which are found across the country.
"You can find growth of these in farms, trees and other areas which have damp climates, so it’s not surprising that in a climate best suited to the slow maturation of whisky stocks that this stuff is around."
The Addiewell distillery recently spent thousands of pounds cleaning black growths from 11 houses in the Muirhall area, some of which are just 100 yards from its whisky bond.
Bernard Kane, chairman of the Muirhall Residents’ Association, said all the residents were looking for was a guarantee that the company would repeat the exercise every three years.
He said: "There is no doubt in my mind that the black growth is caused by the whisky bond. I have been to other whisky sites in the country where you can see the black growth on nearby houses.
"I don’t have much faith in this investigation because you can make a report say whatever you want it to. We just want a guarantee our houses will be maintained."
The North British Distillery plans to transfer its storage facilities out of Edinburgh to new, larger premises in West Lothian.
West Lothian Council demanded the company carry out a detailed study of the mould problem when it granted it outline planning permission for the new buildings.
Richard Hartland, the local authority’s development and building control manager, said that if the results of the investigation revealed that the black growth is directly associated with the whisky bond, the company would have to give a commitment to tackling the problem.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
26 Aug
2003
Shake-up at Burn Stewart
DISTILLER Burn Stewart has promoted finance director Steve Campbell to the new post of managing director. He will take up the position with immediate effect.
Mr Campbell will take over the day-to-day running of Burn Stewart from chief executive Ian Bankier, who has been given a broader role within the firm since it merged with Angostura bitters maker CL Financial earlier this year. CL boosted its whisky portfolio in April, paying rival distiller Edrington nearly £10m for the Bunnahabhain malt and Black Bottle blend.
"It is often said that a good finance director is very involved in the business. I like to think this is the case and I can complement the skills I have learnt in market distribution and international sales," Mr Campbell said.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
24 Aug
2003
Whisky distiller director nips off
THE exodus of senior management from whisky maker Whyte and Mackay continued last week, with the departure of director Robert Ellis. A spokesman for the company said: "I can confirm that Robert Ellis is leaving Whyte and Mackay as general manager, procurement. This was entirely his own decision and he is currently working out a notice period."
Chairman and chief executive Vivian Imerman has dispensed with the services of most of the directors since he took over the company.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
24 Aug
2003
Grouse prepares to spread its wings in India
FAMOUS Grouse manufacturer Highland Distillers is in talks with potential distributors in India, a market with massive potential which is steadily opening up to Scotch whisky.
It has held talks with Radico Kahitan in London and India, and has also been approached by Triumph Distillers & Vintners which last year bought out Diageo’s Indian whiskies.
Deepak Roy, chief executive of TDV, steered United Distillers, part of Diageo, into the country and headed its operations for eight years, managing Diageo brands such as Johnnie Walker and J&B.
But Famous Grouse is regarded as the fastest-growing imported Scotch whisky in the country, which has the potential to become one of the world’s largest markets for Scotch whisky. Roy is said to be keen to take up distribution of the brand.
Scotch currently accounts for less than 1% of the spirits market of 70 million to 80 million cases a year, which until April 2001 was closed to imported bottled spirits.
Following pressure from the World Trade Organisation, India eased tax tariffs, but they remain punitive, making Scotch unaffordable to most Indians. The last two Indian budgets have seen basic customs duty fall from 188% to 166%, which the Scotch Whisky Association sees as "steps in the right direction".
The industry acknowledges that growth will be slow, but the SWA sees India as a "top international priority".
Paul Ross, the director of Highland Distillers’ emerging markets, said that India is "intrinsic to the company’s long-term business outlook and success" and confirmed that it is talking to distributors.
Ross said: "In such a fast-changing environment it is imperative that Highland Distillers continues to reassess business opportunities. We have had tentative discussions with a number of Indian companies about forging possible trading links to strengthen our local presence. The process is at an early stage and any conclusion is still some distance away."
Highland, part of Edrington group, has appointed Paramjit Singh as general manager in India to replace Dinesh Jain, who left amid rumours that he disagreed with the company over its strategy. Highland said he left to pursue a new business interest and continues to help the company.
Ian Good, the chairman and chief executive of Edrington, said several distribution companies were being considered. He said: "We need to have markets in place at different stages and this is about sowing seeds for the long term."
Incoming chief executive Ian Curle said India was in the "interesting" basket but added that China was currently "hotter" and had significant opportunities for malt whiskies and deluxe brands.
The company is also making further inroads into South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan. The South Korean market for Scotch is growing at up to 20% a year.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
18 Aug
2003
Spirit of parliament
THE supplier of malt whisky to the Scottish Parliament’s gift shop has been appointed following blind taste tests by MSPs.
Politicians took part in the tasting after a selection process in which several companies were asked to tender.
Leading malt whisky specialist Gordon & MacPhail was chosen after the tests.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
11 Aug
2003
Blackwood forced to extend share offer
BLACKWOOD Distillers, Scotland’s newest whisky company, has extended its share offer after failing to raise the £1.5 million it wanted to help build a new distillery on Shetland.
Investors will now have until the end of this month to subscribe, by which time the firm hopes to have a decision on a grant from Highlands and Islands Enterprise to help fund the project.
Chief executive Caroline Whitfield, who did not want to reveal how much had been pledged by last month’s original closing date, admitted Blackwood had not had any firm interest from institutional investors but said it had seen strong demand from private individuals. She said she was in talks with three individuals - two from Scotland and one from England, about investing "significant sums" in the venture.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
11 Aug
2003
WestLB to sell Whyte and Mackay stake
VIVIAN Imerman, the 50 per cent stakeholder and chief executive of Whyte and Mackay, was last night facing the prospect of becoming the whisky giant’s sole investor, as West LB signalled it did not intend to hold on to its 40 per cent share.
German-based West LB, which gained its chunk of the whisky giant when it bankrolled its 2001 management buy-out from Jim Beams, has said it would sell off the investment "in the medium term" along with the rest of its principle finance unit.
Imerman, as chief shareholder, would be given pre-emptive rights, or first call, over West LB’s stake when it becomes available. If he chose to turn down the offer it would clear a pathway for another investor to move in - which the South African would be keen to avoid.
Whyte and Mackay said: "Vivian Imerman has no intention of selling the business. Should WestLB look to sell its shareholding he has expressed an interest in acquiring these shares, depending on the conditions attached."
West LB would not elaborate on when it may relinquish its stake, saying only that all the investments in Saunders’ unit were up for sale. But it is understood that the sale will not be immediately forthcoming. A review of the entire portfolio of interests could take more than 18 months to complete.
Whyte and Mackay, formerly known as Kyndal, poured water on suggestions that in ridding itself of its shareholding West LB would try to engineer a bidding war for the group. The distiller produced a letter it received last month from West LB’s Robin Saunders stating that the company was "not for sale" and that the bank would need Imerman’s "full agreement" to go ahead with its plans.
It said: "On 8 July we received a letter stating that ... while WestLB may choose to dispose of its principle finance unit, the business remains not for sale."
Imerman, the former chief executive of Del Monte, built up his stake in the business through an intensive financial restructuring that allowed employees to sell him shares at a 25 per cent premium to the MBO price.
When the transaction process is complete he will own a 60 per cent stake in the company.
The whisky distiller has been weighed down by debt since its buy-out in October 2001. Former chief executive Brian Megson left in February, paving the way for Imerman’s ascent and sparking the departure of five other directors.
West LB’s investment in Whyte and Mackay is flanked by stakes in Odeon cinemas, Pubmaster pubs and department store chain Bhs in the unit’s portfolio. Saunders, who may yet attempt to buy out the finance unit herself, and other executives control 10 per cent of West LB’s 40 per cent stake.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
08 Aug
2003
Dewar's suffers 10% drop
JOHN Dewar & Sons, the Perthshire-based whisky distiller owned by Bacardi, has seen a 10 per cent drop in revenue due to a fall in sales in Venezuela, Spain and France.
Announcing results for the year ended 31 March, 2003, the company - which together with Bombay Sapphire Gin, was bought by Bacardi from Diageo for more than £1.1 billion in March 1998 - suffered a fall in sales revenue from £84.2 million to £75.7m.
Pre-tax profit also took a hit, falling more than £3m to £5.9m.
Director Ian Lochhead said the drop in profits was the result of increased advertising and promotional spend. "Sales volume fell by 11 per cent overall during the year, although most major markets performed well," Lochhead said.
"The exceptions were in Venzuela, where political and economic conditions significantly affected performance; in Spain, where destocking led to a fall in shipments, and in France, where intense price competition has affected sales."
The Dewar’s brands - Dewar’s White Label, the blended brand, Dewar’s Ancestor, a 12-year-old deluxe, and five malt whiskies - were performing particularly well in Europe and Asia, said Lochhead.
Europe was particularly hard hit, contributing £7m less in revenue for the year, but turnover in the US, where Dewar’s White Label claims to be the number one selling whisky, saw a slight increase to £20m on the back of increased sales of Dewar’s Special reserve, Deluxe 12-year-old.
Dewar’s World of Whisky, the company’s £2m visitor attraction on the Tay in Aberfeldy which opened in 2000, continued its success, Lochhead said - even against a background of recession in the tourism industry, visitor numbers still increased 16 per cent to 29,000.
Dewar’s was created in 1880’s by crofter’s son John Dewar. It really took off when two of his ten children, John and Tommy, later joined the business, opening its first distillery in Aberfeldy in 1898.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
06 Aug
2003
Whisky chief shares move
VIVIAN IMERMAN, the chairman and chief executive of distiller Whyte and Mackay - formerly known as Kyndal - has won the right to buy the ten per cent of the company’s shares which are currently held by employees.
Mr Imeran said he now planned to make a formal offer to buy the shares, which will give his consortium a controlling 60 per cent stake in the distiller. German investment bank WestLB currently holds a 40 per cent share in the business.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
05 Aug
2003
Distiller toasts Festival premiere
WHISKY distiller Glenfiddich is to provide backing for the premiere of a new Scottish movie at the Edinburgh International Film Festival.
The company’s sponsorship of Afterlife, which stars Kevin McKidd of Trainspotting and Small Faces fame, forms part of an ambitious bid by the distiller to entice younger drinkers to malt whisky. The film tells the story of a young journalist set to get the breakthrough of his career when his dying mother asks him to take on the care of his disabled sister.
George Thomson, managing director of Scottish sales at Glenfiddich owner William Grant & Sons, said: "This sponsorship was a good fit for us as we are keen to support up-and-coming Scottish talent. It is also likely to appeal to the stylish younger malt drinkers we are targeting."
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
01 Aug
2003
Confusion as Kyndal axes 200 jobs
TROUBLED whisky group Kyndal ditched its obscure corporate moniker yesterday as it confirmed that 200 Scottish jobs were set to be axed through a shake-up of its bottling operations.
The Glasgow-based drinks colossus has adopted the name of its most famous brand, Whyte and Mackay - a move that left industry observers slightly baffled.
While the swingeing job cuts had been anticipated in The Scotsman, the company has left its staff in the dark by refusing to reveal which of its two bottling operations - at Grangemouth and Leith - will be closed.
Chairman and chief executive Vivian Imerman dismissed the job losses as "a fact of life". He added: "The redundancies will predominantly come from the bottling hall, but will also include a small number of general administrative jobs.
"As of yet, we have not decided which site will close, it oscillates between the two. It is a hugely complicated exercise and a decision will be made by the end of September."
On the name change, he added: "I am a very simple person, I go back to basics and do not try and concentrate on the negative. Whyte and Mackay, were two Scottish businessmen who were highly focused on quality and customer needs. That is what we aim to be."
Kyndal has been weighed down with debt since its creation through a £200 million management buy-out in October 2001. In February, chief executive Brian Megson quit, launching a management exodus that has seen all five of the founding directors leave.
The shake-up will lead to a cash injection of £70m, generated partly through the sale of non-core assets. More than £50m will be spent on marketing the four core brands - Whyte and Mackay, Isle of Jura, Dalmore and Vladivar vodka, as well as building the own-label whisky business. The remaining £20m will be spent on the restructuring.
But analysts remained unimpressed. One said: "Whyte and Mackay is not the most dynamic company and I suspect it will remain much the company it was but spending more on brands. It will be an uphill struggle to turn it round. They will not turn the own-label market round overnight and their four brands, although very good, are in a fiercely competitive market."
An industry insider added: "We are no clearer of his plans than we were yesterday. Either he [Imerman] doesn’t know what he is doing or he has made his mind up and doesn’t want to reveal which one will be closed. But that is an odd decision, as you can imagine what staff morale will be like from now until the end of September."
Imerman confirmed his intention to buy-out the management’s shares, giving him a 60 per cent stake in the firm. An extraordinary general meeting to approve proposals that would make it easier for a large shareholder to buy out the company’s smaller investors has been called for 5 August.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
29 Jul
2003
Price cut raises whisky drinkers' spirits
WHISKY drinkers were raising a glass last night after new figures revealed the price of a dram has fallen to its lowest level for two years.
Despite the growth in premium malt sales and the popularity of so-called icon brands - Chivas Regal 50-year-old enjoys healthy sales at £8,888 a bottle - for the not so discerning drinker, whisky is less expensive in real terms than for many years...
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Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
27 Jul
2003
Grant hunting creative talent
WILLIAM Grant & Sons is inviting pitches for its £2.5m Glenfiddich whisky creative account just 19 months after appointing McCann-Erickson to the job.
McCann held the account for 27 years until 1999, when it was dropped, but the firm was re-appointed in December 2001.
The move follows the departure of former managing director Patrick Thomas, who left in April following a disagreement with the Grant family.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
25 Jul
2003
Trophies and medals raise spirits at Chivas
CHIVAS Brothers, the Scotch whisky business owned by Pernod Ricard, has won two trophies and three gold medals at this year’s International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC).
The firm has also been short-listed for the distiller of the year award, which will be announced at a presentation and banquet in the City of London on October 28.
The trophy for best blended Scotch whisky was awarded to Chivas’ Royal Salute 21 Year Old for the second year running.
Aberlour 10 Year Old also clinched a trophy for best single malt under 12 years old and won particular praise from the judges for its "guts and glamour".
The gold medals were presented to Chivas for its trio of single malts - Longmorn 15 Year Old, the Glenlivet 12 Year Old French Oak Finish and the Glenlivet 18 Year Old.
The Glenlivet 18 Year Old achieved the distinction of winning gold medals at both the IWSC and the International Spirits Challenge for two successive years.
Martin Riley, Chivas Brothers’ international marketing director, said: "We are honoured to have achieved such a high level of success for the second year in a row at one of the world’s most prestigious awards competition."
Established 25 years ago, the IWSC is designed to promote the quality and excellence of the world’s best wines, spirits and liqueurs.
Last year, Pernod Ricard sold more than 2.8 million cases of the 12-year-old Chivas Regal malt worldwide, making it the number two spirit in Duty Free and the number one premium scotch in the eurozone.
The group recently unveiled a £28 million global marketing push to make Chivas Regal the world’s leading premium whisky brand.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
23 Jul
2003
Edrington takes first office shot at Far East
EDRINGTON Group, the Scottish whisky group, has opened an office in China - the first Scotch maker to do so.
The company, known for its Macallan, Cutty Sark and Famous Grouse brands, opened the office in Shanghai in a bid to boost sales in the Chinese and Asian markets.
Demand for the drink has soared in the Far East, with the clamour for malts up by 23 per cent and 26 per cent respectively in the two markets over the past five years.
Staffed by a team of five, the Shanghai office will be the headquarters for markets including Greater China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea and Japan and stretching as far as Australia and New Zealand. The office will play the lead role in a multi-million pound investment in Asia by Edrington to develop its key brands, including Highland Park.
Martin Reimann, Edrington’s Asia Pacific regional director, said:
"Shanghai was selected as it is the commercial heart of China, itself the fastest growing economy in the world. It also gives us invaluable proximity to other local markets.
"It has exciting potential, there is a huge appetite for high quality whisky brands and we are well placed to satisfy demand."
Scotland’s Enterprise Minister Jim Wallace welcomed the move.
He said: "Our Global Connections strategy encourages companies to embrace globalisation and integrate the Scottish economy into the world economy.
"This is an excellent example of a leading Scottish company trailblazing new business opportunities and taking advantage of new markets."
Earlier this month, Glasgow-based Edrington posted a 24.6 per cent increase in pre-tax profits to a record £61.7 million. Turnover was up 14.9 per cent to £230.7m for the year ended 31 March, from £200.8m the year before.
In September, the distiller signed a contract with Hite, South Korea’s leading drinks distribution company, to promote a premium malt exclusively for that market.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
23 Jul
2003
Macallan distillery opens Shanghai office
THE Macallan distillery on Speyside has become the first Scotch whisky manufacturer to open an office in China as part of a major drive to boost sales in the Far East and the Pacific.
The distillery’s Shanghai office was officially opened yesterday, to coincide with the Euromoney Entrepreneurs conference in the city, at which Prime Minister Tony Blair was a key speaker.
Sales of Scottish malts have already increased by 25 per cent over the past five years in the Chinese and Asian markets.
The Macallan, owned by whisky giant Edrington, is planning to use its new base in the Far East to boost demand from a new generation of Chinese consumers.
Staffed by a team of five, the Shanghai office will be the headquarters for markets stretching from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea and Japan to Australia and New Zealand.
The base will also be used to promote other whiskies produced by the parent company, the Edrington Group, whose other brands include the Famous Grouse and Highland Park.
Martin Reimann, Edrington’s regional director for the Asia Pacific market, said:
"Having a regional base in Shanghai is pivotal to the group’s Asian strategy and customer relationships. Shanghai was selected as it is the commercial heart of China, itself the fastest growing economy in the world. It also gives us invaluable proximity to other local markets.
"It has exciting potential. There is a huge appetite for high quality whisky brands and we are well-placed to satisfy demand."
Reimann continued: "As malt whisky is discovered and explored in China, a new generation of consumers is emerging.
"They are hungry for knowledge, enjoy the experience of finding great quality brands and are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their choice of drink. We are optimistic about the future as we see this trend continuing."
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
20 Jul
2003
£1.2bn of alcohol 'spirited away' in seasonally adjusted figures
IT LOOKS like statistical manoeuvring worthy of Orwell. ‘Seasonally adjusted’ export figures just published by the Scottish Executive have spirited away £1.21bn of drink.
The original figure of £2.5bn of drinks dispatched in 1997 has been revised without explanation, causing frustrated forecasters who monitor industry trends to rewrite their own records. Now they are asking why the adjustment has been made and why it has taken six years to downgrade the figure to £1.294bn.
The figures have been published every quarter and this is the first time in 24 quarters that the change has been made.
The revision has also meant downgrading the annual export total for 1997 from £18.953bn to £17.744bn, causing some angst among the country’s number-crunchers.
Peter Hughes, chief executive of Scottish Engineering, the trade organisation, said he has inquired into the 1997 figure several times without receiving a reply.
So he was astonished when the revised figures were published earlier this month. He said the figure will distort his presentations on Scottish manufactured goods.
Hughes, who has again written to the Executive asking for an answer, said the original figure was so far out of line with the average of £1.6bn for the years 1995 to 2002 that it should have prompted alarm bells to ring.
"A change of £1.21bn can hardly be described as trivial," he said.
A further curiosity yet to be explained is that annual exports of Scotch Whisky have been above £2bn for more than 10 years - £700m above the Executive’s total drinks tally and £500m above the total for drink, food and tobacco.
David Williamson, public affairs manager at the Scotch Whisky Association, said: "I can’t explain it. We will have to see the Executive’s figures and compare data."
A Scottish Executive spokesman said: "The manufactured exports series is primarily intended to provide an up-to-date estimate of quarterly and annual movements, but we also recognise the need for robust longer-term data. The revision to the figure for 1997 is a result of a rolling programme of methodological and data improvements intended to help bring this about."
A brief investigation was carried out at the time of the initial inquiry from Peter Hughes. This confirmed that data had been "recorded correctly and there were no errors in methodology", he said.
"However, we recognised that more work was required. Following a more detailed investigation, but added: "We have concluded that the 1997 Q2-Q4 figures for drink are significantly ‘off-trend’ and have adjusted them in line with other evidence from the industry during that period."
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
20 Jul
2003
Whisky fans drink to Glenturret's rare vintage
SCOTLAND’S oldest distillery, Glenturret, will this week unveil a special limited edition bottling which is attracting worldwide interest from Scotch whisky connoisseurs.
The new bottling for the 10-year-old single malt has been launched with two vintage limited editions - 1972 and 1980 cask strength. They will be the first limited edition bottlings released by the distillery for a decade and are signed by distillery manager Neil Cameron and stillman Hugh Malloy.
Glenturret, based at Crieff and founded in 1775, is one of five distilleries to receive an £8m makeover from parent company Edrington.
The group has spent more than £5m on productivity and efficiency improvements at its five distilleries and, in the past two years, ploughed more than£3m into improving its distillery visitor centres.
The Bafta-winning Famous Grouse Experience at Glenturret opened last year and the investment by the group is paying dividends, according to Derek Brown, brands heritage director.
"Since opening in June 2002 visitor numbers have risen by 22% and we are delighted with the response from the domestic market, which has seen us very busy at weekends during the start of the year, traditionally a quiet time," Brown said.
"Over 25% of our visitors now come from Scotland and a younger, more family-orientated profile is emerging, which is great news."
Distillery visits are proving more and more attractive to British tourists choosing short domestic breaks amid anxiety about international unrest and Sars. And despite tourism industry fears of a downturn in the number of overseas holidaymakers visiting Scotland, there are indications that this season may not be hit as hard as some are predicting.
Tourist numbers at Edrington’s distilleries in the first three months of this year were encouraging. Another rewarding trend emerging, said Brown, is the number - about 15% - who make repeat visits.
The introduction of a range of special events and theme days has contributed to a renewed interest in what distilleries have to offer. The group is also focusing on widening the service offered to visitors, including the range of languages which tour guides can offer. At The Macallan distillery, this includes sign language tours for visitors with impaired hearing.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
18 Jul
2003
Blackwood lands US deal to raise spirits in Shetland
BLACKWOOD Distillers, which is planning to build Shetland’s first whisky distillery, has signed a major deal to supply more than 45,000 cases of its new range of white spirits to the US.
The distiller, which last month published a share prospectus in an attempt to raise £1.5 million to finance the building of the distillery, said shipments of its newly- launched "Shetland" range, including, Nordic gin, vodka, whisky cream liqueur and vanilla vodka cream liqueur, will begin in mid-September.
The range, which uses ingredients sourced from the Shetland Isles, is being produced in the west of Scotland for Blackwood by an unnamed company. Chief executive Caroline Whitfield said: "It is an unusual step to go for the export market before establishing a domestic presence, but we have chosen that strategy because Shetland exists on exports."
The deal in the US is expected to worth more than £5m. Whitfield said: "Since we launched the range at the international drinks trade at VinExpo2003 in Bordeaux in June, we have signed distribution deals in Canada, the UK, Malaysia and now the US."
The firm also has interest from 16 other countries. Blackwood aims to start building next year on what will be Britain’s most northerly distillery, at a cost of £5m, based at Catfirth near Lerwick. The plans are to produce 40,000 cases a year of premium single malt whisky. With the whisky market worth about £3 billion a year in the UK, and with single malts growing at 11 per cent per annum, Blackwood said she is aiming for a 1 per cent global market share by 2008.
Working capital in the early years will be assisted by the parallel development of the Shetland range of spirits.
Whitefield, who previously worked with Diageo and Unilever, has assembled an experienced team. Joining her on the board is former Seagram’s chairman James Espey and Dr Arthur Davies, who inspired the building of the Gwalia distillery in the Brecon Beacons in 1999. Tom Jago, the marketing mastermind behind Baileys and Johnny Walker Blue, has been brought in to assist the launch of the Shetland range.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
12 Jul
2003
Kyndal restructuring will see plant closures
A SECRETIVE review of Kyndal, the whisky maker behind Whyte & Mackay and Isle of Jura single malt, will result in the closure of at least one of its two bottling plants in Grangemouth and Leith, The Scotsman can reveal.
Vivian Imerman, executive chairman of the troubled Glasgow firm, commissioned a radical restructuring plan earlier this year from consultants Bain & Co. Details of the review have been kept under tight wraps, but yesterday Imerman disclosed there will be far-reaching implications for the group’s 700-strong Scottish workforce.
Kyndal operates three major sites in Scotland, including the two bottling plants and its headquarters in Glasgow. Asked if any of them will be closed under the review, Imerman told: The Scotsman "It will definitely involve the disappearance of one of them."
Asked if two sites could be shut, Imerman said: "Very possibly. What I actually don’t know is which [will close]."
Imerman expects Bain & Co to hand over its full set of recommendations by the end of next week. He promised to make the findings public "very shortly thereafter".
The radical overhaul is vital to bring Kyndal up to "international standards and disciplines which the company hasn’t had in the past," he said.
"It involves the strategy around branding, the value forming areas, technology, manufacturing processes, and, in general, running the business. It’s a bottom to top exercise."
Separately, Kyndal’s finance director, Ron MacEachran, walked away from the company that he helped buy from Jim Bean Brands in 2000.
Kyndal said MacEachran, one of five members of Kyndal’s MBO team, will depart with immediate effect, although he will retain a consultancy role for the next year.
He is the sixth executive to resign or be sacked by Kyndal in the past six months, beginning with chief executive Brian Megson in February.
Imerman downplayed the loss of MacEachran - whose departure he said was "amicable" - as he waved a letter from Kyndal’s majority shareholder WestLB. Robin Saunders, the controversial financier who backed Kyndal’s MBO in 2001, wrote to Imerman assuring him that WestLB’s 40 per cent stake in the company - which she bought for just £1,000 - is not for sale.
Imerman and his brother-in-law, Iranian tycoon Robert Tchenguiz, control a 35 per cent stake in Kyndal, with staff owning the remaining quarter of the shares.
Imerman said: "This letter is great news, because speculation about the uncertainty of [WestLB’s] stake has been a worry to our suppliers and our staff and company. So we’re very glad the situation has been cleared up".
Explaining the unexpected departure of Kyndal’s finance chief, Imerman said: "Change always leads to unrest. Some people will stay with us, others will not ... it is human nature."
MacEachran’s exit leaves the Kyndal board with six non-executive directors, plus Imerman. It is in the process of recruiting a commercial director. About 20 sales staff are also being hired.
Imerman, who made his name as the man behind Del Monte in the 1990s, confirmed he still hopes to buy the 25 per cent of Kyndal’s shares owned by staff. He said: "I want to have a uniform profit incentive across the group."
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
10 Jul
2003
Big names keep spirits up for Diageo in face of sales slump
DIAGEO, the world’s biggest spirits company, has seen a strong performance from its premium brands help offset an overall slump in second half sales.
The firm cited the outbreak of the flu-like Sars virus and the Iraq war as factors in the slide in the second half.
In an end-of-year trading update ahead of its results for the year to June 30, the company - formed from the merger of drinks group Guinness and food and spirits firm Grand Metropolitan in 1997 - said trading conditions had remained tough during the last six months of the year.
And while it added that it did not expect net sales to be higher than the four per cent seen in the first half, it forecast that its organic operating profit would be "marginally better" than the six per cent recorded in the first half.
David Liston, a fund manager at Gerrard, said: "With all that was going on in the second half, I’d have thought it could have been worse.
"The new year will be less challenging than the last, but maybe not much."
The addition of Seagram group brands such as Captain Morgan and Crown Royal whisky will help support earnings, analysts said.
Chief executive Paul Walsh said: "All consumer goods companies have faced an environment of declining consumer confidence and significant global events in the year.
"Despite these circumstances, Diageo will deliver consistent performance in top and bottom line organic growth, continued growth in priority brands and improved share."
The company said that volumes of its eight "global priority brands'" such as Johnnie Walker Black Label Scotch whisky and Baileys liqueur improved in the second half, led by growth of Guinness stout and Smirnoff vodka.
But it did not provide any breakdown on the brands. However, it did say that the eight brands accounted for about 57 per cent of the group’s sales.
In the six months to December 31, London-based Diageo saw underlying operating profits remain broadly unchanged at £1.24 billion.
Consumer goods firms are struggling as shoppers hold on to their cash amid the global economic slowdown.
European drinks groups Heineken and Interbrew and consumer products giant Unilever have all highlighted tough trading conditions in recent weeks.
Diageo indicated that demand for ready-to-drink spirits such as Smirnoff Ice, which have been hit by higher taxes introduced last year, was coming off the boil after last year’s explosive growth as new competitors entered the market and governments hiked excise duties. It predicted that Smirnoff Ice sales were set to show a fall of about three per cent over the full year.
Diageo, which has sold food groups Pillsbury and Burger King to focus on its spirits division, said it expected to take a charge of £95 million to operating profits in the year to end-June 2004, due to its £1.4bn pension deficit.
Analysts said this was in line with their expectations..
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
09 Jul
2003
Whisky distiller aims high
WHISKY distiller Glenfiddich is to sponsor this weekend’s Centenary of Flight Air Show in East Lothian as part of a marketing drive behind its new Caoran Reserve malt.
The whisky has been developed to recreate the flavour of whisky distilled in the 1930s and 40s.
The air show, which marks the 100th anniversary of the first flight, is expected to attract a crowd of more than 15,000 to East Fortune and will feature aeronautical displays by 34 planes, with a further 50 aircraft to view on the ground.
Glenfiddich, owned by William Grant & Sons, is the world’s best-selling malt whisky, with more than three million regular UK customers.
Spokeswoman Elizabeth Lafferty said: "The Museum of Flight air show is growing in stature and this year is bidding to become Scotland’s premier aeronautical event.
"There is an incredible diversity of aircraft scheduled to participate in the flight programme including a 1930s Tiger Moth which has been renamed Caoran - The Independent Spirit for the day."
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
06 Jul
2003
Plenty of bottle for hard decisions
IF THERE is something of a mercenary about Vivian Imerman, it is probably summed up in a comment he made recently on his approach to the way he conducts business. The chief executive and chairman of Scotch whisky group Kyndal once remarked: "I’m not in business to be popular, I’m in business to be effective. You can’t bank popularity, you can only bank cashflow... Click here for full story
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
06 Jul
2003
Diageo aims to cut £50m transport bill in half
WHISKY giant Diageo wants to halve its £50m Scottish transport bill in a move that heralds a shake-up in the drinks distribution sector.
The group behind Bell’s and Johnnie Walker whiskies as well as Gordon’s Gin is considering a number of radical new schemes including support for a budget air freight service and a new deep sea port in the Orkneys.
The company has commissioned Edinburgh’s Napier University to look at ways of stripping out distribution costs.
It is not known where the cuts will fall, but Diageo’s roster of transport companies includes Renfrewshire-based Malcolm Group and English, Scottish & Welsh Railways.
Allan Burns, joint executive director of Diageo’s Scottish arm, said: "Right now my focus is on the route to market. It is almost as expensive to hold, move and warehouse things as to produce them. The question is - how do we get a better infrastructure out of Scotland?"
Diageo plans to cut its transport costs by 5-10% a year until it achieves a 50% reduction.
Burns said: "Our transport costs are £50m per year from Scotland. Total distribution costs from Scotland are £250m, which is where you start to get into significant sums."
The director said he hoped to have a more detailed cost-cutting plan by the end of the year. At the moment 65% of Diageo’s Scottish-produced drink is transported by sea, 30% by rail and 5% by road.
While some of its transport agents could lose out in the shake-up, others may benefit if contracts are merged. Burns said cutting costs would allow Diageo’s Scottish operations such as bottling plants to fight off competition from abroad.
Although Scotch whisky has to be made and matured in Scotland, it can be bottled elsewhere.
One idea developed by Diageo and Napier is for a low-cost freight airline - a cargo version of the budget carriers.
Transporting whisky by plane would dramatically cut the time it takes to get goods to market but air freight is still expensive.
Diageo is also keen to support Scotland’s first deep sea port, which looks set to be sited in the Orkney Isles.
A local deep sea port would cut out the need to transport whisky and gin to ports such as Felixstowe in England or Rotterdam in the Netherlands.
Diageo exports 40,000 containers of drink every year.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
03 Jul
2003
A dram good set of results
FAMOUS Grouse producer Edrington has reported a 24.6 per cent surge in pre-tax profits to a record £61.7 million.
Turnover at the distiller, which also makes the Macallan malt, rose 14.9 per cent to £230.7m for the year.
Chairman and chief executive Ian Good said the group had enjoyed strong sales growth across all its brands, including Cutty Sark and Highland Park. Mr Good is also chairman of the Scotch Whisky Association.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
02 Jul
2003
Drams ahoy as Ark Royal drops in
AN unexpected guest turning up on your doorstep could be a problem, especially if it happened to be a 20,000-tonne aircraft carrier.
But the Ardbeg Distillery on Islay was more than happy to welcome the Ark Royal.
The Ileach, the local paper, had reported during the war in Iraq that the Ark Royal did not have one single bottle of malt on board out in the Gulf. So Jackie Thomson and Emma McGeachie at the Old Kiln Café got to work and one was soon on its way.
Back in Blighty, the Ark Royal had a three-week refit at Portsmouth before heading up to Greenock. With a day to spare last week, Captain Allan Massey decided to drop in on Ardbeg and say thank you. So he parked his ship, or rather moored his vessel, a mile off Lagavulin Bay and drew lots for crew members to go ashore.
Stuart Thomson, the manager, gave them a tour of the distillery and they returned the compliment, inviting ten distillery staff on board for dinner and more drinks. Anchors aweigh. And there’s a promise that the Ark Royal will pop back in the next time she is in the neighbourhood.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
02 Jul
2003
Kyndal chief steps down
KYNDAL, the whisky distiller, has confirmed sales director Iain Gilchrist is to stand down in September, making him the fifth senior director to leave this year.
Mr Gilchrist was part of the five-strong team that led the £208 million management buyout of Kyndal from Jim Beam Brands in 2001. Since the record-breaking MBO, chief executive Brian Megson, operations director Ian Palmer, human resources director Alan Mackie and Douglas Reid, head of logistics, have left the group.
A spokesman for Kyndal, which makes Whyte & Mackay, Vladivar vodka and Glayva liqueur, said: "Iain Gilchrist has intimated his wish to work with his wife in developing her business.
"He will remain in his present role until September and beyond this he will continue to have a very important part-time role."
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
01 Jul
2003
Early end to tariffs gives Scotch a lift
THE Scotch whisky industry will receive a major boost today as eight Eastern European countries lift import tariffs on the national drink.
The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) said the countries - the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Slovakia and Slovenia - are lifting their tariffs ten months early as part of preparations for joining the European Union.
Under EU rules, neither tariffs nor quotas can apply to goods being shipped within the single market.
Tim Jackson, director of International Affairs at the SWA, said negotiations started back in 1998 to ensure that tariffs are eliminated in line with single market rules. "Today we can see our efforts beginning to pay dividends," he said.
"Tariff elimination, ranging from 5 per cent in the Czech Republic to 40.8 per cent in Hungary, alongside the adoption of EU rules ending discriminatory taxation and protecting the definition of whisky, will significantly improve market access for Scotch whisky in Central and Eastern Europe," he added.
Last year, Eastern Europe was worth £21 million in Scotch sales with the eight countries together purchasing more than 500,000 cases.
Of the ten countries granted entry to the European Union in December 2002, only Poland and Cyprus have now refused to lift their tariffs early.
Jackson added: "Poland is stalling as it has a large domestic vodka market and it wants to protect that, but make no mistake they will have to remove them in 2004."
The news comes at a crucial time for the Scotch whisky industry which is being hit by a downturn in global markets. Recent figures published by the SWA reveal that exports in blended whisky fell last year by 6.9 per cent to 943.4 million bottles.
Alan Gray, whisky analyst at stockbrokers Sutherlands, said that at the moment Eastern Europe is not a significant market compared with South America or Western Europe - but given time it could increase, maybe by as much as three-fold.
Gray said that as part of the old eastern bloc, sales of Scotch whisky in most of those countries had been restricted, and the lifting of tariffs will allow Scottish firms to gain a foothold: "This is good news for the industry. These markets all have potential as they have a heritage of spirits and whisky drinking."
Distillers will hope to repeat the success experienced in Greece. Five years after joining the European Community in 1981, sales of scotch whisky had risen by 450 per cent to £19m.
Now the market there is worth more than £92m a year and is the seventh-largest export market worldwide.
Leonard Russell, managing director of Glengoyne distillery, which has a foothold in Eastern Europe with the King Robert blend, said he was excited about the possibilities in the market.
He said: "We sell 1,500 cases a year of King Robert, a blended whisky, to Estonia on the back of 400,000 cases worldwide. Evaluating the broad scope of counties I would say the Czech Republic looks like the most significant in terms of growth."
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
scotsman.com
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